What to look for in online college degrees
Millions of students are advancing their careers through online education. If you plan to join them, there are a few things you should look for when choosing to earn your college degree online. Some colleges talk the talk, but do they walk the walk?
Levels of interaction
One of the key benefits of studying online is that you're not tied to a specific time and place to complete your coursework or attend class. This is ideal if you've got a job or family responsibilities that need to be taken care of. However, just because you're studying online doesn't mean you should miss out on the vital interaction with and feedback from your instructors.
Before you commit to any decisions, talk to the admissions advisers at your prospective schools and ask about the format of their web-based classes. Some online college degree programs use a combination of live streaming lectures and video conferencing to add an extra level of interactivity for their students. Others, however, merely offer a message board and a college email address. Just because a class is delivered over the internet doesn't mean your academic experience should be any less rich or engaging than that of your campus-based counterparts.
Even if you never have to set foot on campus to attend a class, you shouldn't have to miss out on everything that's going on in the student community. Interacting with classmates through social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter has taken off in a big way in recent years, and you should ask your admissions adviser about the kinds of extracurricular activities that are organized by the institution and the student body.
Online education should be convenient, not isolating. Just because you don't have to attend class on campus doesn't mean you have to be disconnected from the student community. Ask about things like extracurricular activities, student clubs and organizations, and ways to connect with your peers outside of class.
Many students think earning a college degree online is easier than doing so at a traditional campus. If this seems to be the case at the schools you're interested in, this could be a big problem. Everybody wants to do well in their studies and get good grades, but don't forget - when you graduate, you'll be competing for employment opportunities with everyone else. If the curriculum of your online degree program isn't as rigorous as that of its brick-and-mortar equivalent, you might struggle to compete in the job market.