The New Year is here and one popular resolution that many will make is to return to school to finally earn their degrees. Advertised as easy and affordable, online programs will attract many of these aspiring graduates who have decided that 2014 is the perfect time to go back to school. Here are some things to keep in mind when finding an online school to enroll in for the spring semester.
Convenient Is Different than Easy
Many returning students mistakenly find an online class under the guise that it will be much easier than a traditional on-campus course. Without committing to set course hours or traveling to the school several days a week, online courses do offer a more convenient method of setting your own class time and working around your pre-existing schedule.
However, the online learning environment may require even more dedication than a traditional classroom because the student must self-start. An online class requires students to dig into the material on their own with lots of reading, listening to recorded lectures, doing outside research and engaging in discussion boards and chat sessions.
Online Is Not Always Cheaper
Many students enroll in online university programs because of the assumption that these nontraditional schools are cheaper per unit than tuition at a big state school or private university. However, this might be more of a myth than you would think. Reflecting on her recent online learning experience, journalist Devon Haynie writes that in her class, “online students were charged $25 more per credit hour than their on-campus counterparts.”
Many online programs cost upwards of $1,300 per class when you add up all the charges involved. Haynie concludes that “When online students talk about how online education is more affordable, they are probably talking about the money they saved in transportation costs or through working while in school.”
It Is Still Important to Research the Instructor
Although you will never meet your instructor throughout the duration of the entire course, it is still preferable to read some reviews, talk to peers and try to gauge public opinion on your prospective professor. Teaching is a skill that not all professors have— even if they do have two masters and a PhD. Just like you would look for a good professor when you are going to have to sit through lectures, put in a little pre-class investigation to find the best professor you can.
Don’t Be Afraid of Tech
While there are some givens that you will need like an updated version of Word, a reliable Internet connection and a good computer, taking an online course is probably not as technically complicated as many people fear. Programs like South University online may require a basic understanding of how to work online, attach and send a file or use video chat. And if you don’t already know how to do this, then acquiring the necessary skills will help you with your career and personal life as well as in the virtual classroom.
With these tips in mind, you will know how to look for the right online class to help you step closer to your New Year’s goal of graduating one day.
Image from computerschools.com