Online degrees – the modern way of career advancement

Online Degrees
Online degrees are ideal for disciplined people. Source: Rawpixel.com / Shutterstock.com

online degrees – flexible career advancements in modern society

Online education nowadays is one of the fastest growing segments in the global economy. With the advancements in internet technology, students have access to a means of taking career steps and opportunities of self-improvement by getting college credentials through online education. Online education is both cost-efficient and appealing, particularly to people seeking career education in personal circumstances that do not allow them to learn in traditional classroom settings.

Todays society finally realized that time is very valuable and that if managed properly, people can be much more productive and accomplish more personal goals. And the goal of receiving a college education and degree has always been the most important foundations for future security and prosperity.

Taking online degrees at the comfort of ones home and adjusting the studying the desired online degree to ones individual time schedule is a concept that has a lot potential to grow in popularity. Online Education allows both professionals with full-time jobs as well as full-time parents to earn a degree of specific further education that could not be attained through traditional on-site college classes. Online degrees can be a great way to advance in one´s individual´s field of endeavor during time off work or other personal engagements.

Online degrees and certifications offer the option for advancements in a professional field e.g. for a higher position within the company. People can pursue their online career training during time off work while keeping their current position on their company.

Online education makes it also possible for students in distant places to attend college and finish an online bachelor or masters degree, even if they live far away from the nearest college or university.

Pursuing an online degree can also beneficial to people that cannot get any promotion in “dead end” jobs simply because their lack of academic credentials. By pursuing an online degree in their time off work, they have greater chances of getting promotions or even change the job to companys that look for these extra educational credentials.

In general, online education allows busy people, full-time parents and company executives to advance in their careers without compromising work or family schedules. They can choose the desired timing of their studies without being dependant to classroom education.

On the other hand, it is a perfect way for younger students not to miss out on studying due to high cost of education. They can finance their timely flexible online degrees through regular working ours during daytime jobs.

These examples show that there might be many more reasons to study online rather than attend traditional college classes to pursue ones career. They provide a level of timely freedom without being tied down to educational responsibilites of convential classroom settings.

The number and variety of offered online degree programs meanwhile is already pretty complex. Depending on the intensity of offered classes, assignments and personal involvements, candidates have to weigh which online degree programs offer the best fit for their personal situation.

With the right attitude, effective time management and good self-motivation, people can receive additional educational credentials, advance in their career and take entirely new career paths through online degrees. It is up to each individual to maximize the potentials online education generally offers to almost everybody. Still, it is best to conduct research on available degrees, educational providers and offered engagement before right jumping into online education.

With this guide to online degrees with want to give you the right hands-on information to better navigate through educational offers and chose the online career path that is best for your personal situation.

Choosing the right career path

As with choosing a regular college degree, it is always a big decision in your life to build your career path with the right college degree. There are any factors that should be considered when chosing an online degree, that we want to outline as follows:

Goals of the degree

Usually, students pursue majors that interest them as a career path. A profound interest is a prerequisite for chosing a career. However, many students do not have an idea about a certain major before they actually get a taste of related subjects and classes once they attend them. This is a big advantage of US degrees since they lay a lot of emphasis on the general education modules during the first two years of study. Subjects are very general and a specialization within a certain major is usually done in year three and four until the bachelor degree is awarded.

This is not different when choosing an online bachelor degree. Career paths are chosen according to personal interest and expectations and maybe work experience. Once a career path is chosen, options for specialization are available throughout the degree. This is good that way since usually students get a better idea about what they want to become the more input they get during there studies.

Aspects for considering online degrees

Wіth thе vаrіеtу оf оnlіnе dеgrееѕ available nowadays, ѕtudеntѕ аrе frее tо іnvеѕtіgаtе whаtеvеr ѕtudіеѕ аnd dеgrееѕ thеу mау fіnd асаdеmісаllу іntеrеѕtіng wіthоut nесеѕѕаrіlу fосuѕіng оn а ѕресіfіс саrееr. Due to saturated markets and economic fluctuations, there this an evident cоmреtіtіvеnеѕѕ аmоng оnlіnе dеgrее рrоvіdеrѕ even though their number still increases.

With increasing cost for tuition, room and board at traditional colleges and universities over the last decade along with highest flexibility and convenience especially for returning students and non-traditional learners, online degrees became and will become more and more popular in the future. All online degree options such as certificates, associates, bachelor, master or even doctorate degrees are currently gaining credibility and popularity.

However, online degrees require more responsibility, motivation and accountability from students, so online degree programs offer both many advantages but also disadvantages.

Choosing the right online degree

Through the advancement of technology and the internet, online degrees offer the huge advantage for everybody to pursue or finish a degree which would have been impossible without the flexibility of online degrees. Earning a degree is one of the biggest personal investements in human capital to obtain a certificate that paves the way to higher paying jobs or climbing up corporate ladders.

Most of the time, the certificate of a potential online degrees can be the only job requirement you need in order to get this job. Sometimes this can be different in that sense that certain contents and qualification within a degree are highly important for stepping up your career. Thus, you should look holistically at the task “find the right online degree”, taking into account following steps and factors:

You should take following steps to determine the right online degree:

  1. determine your concrete career goals according to your personal interests and job requirements. Be sure to include personal interests so that your goals are somewhat independent from a current job opening since it can suddenly close.
  2. Determine the right online degree type, whether it is a Certificate, Associate, Bachelor, Master or even Doctorate degree depending on your educational as well as professional qualification and experience
  3. look up the specification (syllabus, contents, goals) of a potential online degree you are interested in
  4. determine how the degree contents and the degree certificate comply with your set career goals

Even if a potential online degree looks promising thus is qualified after these three step qualifying method, you might want to consider following factors that influence your decision:

  • Is the desired degree type (Online Certificate, Associate, Bachelor, Master, Doctorate) realistically attainable considering the time and discipline it needs to complete the degree?
  • Does your application to this degree type have a realistic chance of success?
  • How high are the cost of tuition per year, is it affordable for you or do you get a loan for the time of enrollment in order to pay for your studies?
  • Acquired skill set stability to a changing work environment
  • Education provider accreditation and/or qualification
  • Available methods for online-based education as well as number of necessary presence periods and intervalls

Is an online degree right for you?

It is not surprising that online education has become increasingly during the last years because a lot of benefits to conventional classroom attendance. Among the most popular arguments for an online degree is the fact, that online degrees can be achieved while not compromising current job positions or family. When you study online, you can pursue all your career goals without giving up your job or your personal life and do it alltogether at the same time.

However, statistical data shows that not a small percentage of enrolled students in one of the many forms of online degrees actually lose interest with the degree program after some time and need longer time to finish certain degree units than in the beginning. Some even drop out, even though this is just a smaller percentage.

Here are the aspects that you should consider in order to stay motivated to finish your online degree within the regular anticipated study period:

1. Do not procastinate

You should be disciplined enough to do everything to earn your degree in the planned time period. Just because the schedule of an online-degree does not require you to attend classes in person does not mean you should procastine your time, devoted for studying and doing your assignments.

2. Submit your assignments as soon as possible

In order to be successful in your online learning experience, your should stick to the scheduled times to submit your work and assignments. Thus, you never fall behind in your plan. Once fallen behind, its hard to catch up. Your degree is important for you that is why you chose that career path, do stick to assignment schedules.

3. Fight disturbances

Do not let disturbances and distractions such as telephone, TV shows and much more interrupt your daily schedule for studying. It is easy to be distracted, so let anybody living with you know, that the planned study time should not be disturbed and can concentrate on your lessons and courswork.

4. Online degrees are not effortless

Finishing a degree online will require a lot of work and effort on your part, thus will not be easier than attending a traditional classroom. There will be no excuses for not keeping track as there are not in a traditional classroom setting.

What can I expect from studying online for a degree?

The technological advancements especially of the last decade also arrived in the education industry. With the internet, innovative forms of online learning were invented which make it possible to connecting thousands of students from all over the world in one virtual classroom, independently from time and location. It is important to fully understand the current concepts of online study in order to determine if that form of online learning is right for you.

Distance learning is a the overall concept of students studing at remote locations, that has evolved even before the invention of the internet. This learning method was invented for the same people now taking part in online learning: those that could not attend school out of professional reasons or out of personal reasons.

There are four common distance learning forms that have evolved with the means of the internet and have been adopted by most educational institutions:

1) Open Schedule

Here, students can study from anywhere within a given set of deadlines and amount of times for a given task. This is the most flexible form of online learning.

2) Blended Learning

This concept is based on the Open schedule, however, students are required at certain occasions to meet regularly in classroom on-site or in online chat rooms to touch base.

3) Computer Based Learning

Is the most strict concept of modern learning concepts with least flexibility. This concept requires students to regularly meet in either online classrooms or actual on-site classrooms at designated times for the learning process (“fixed time e-learning”). It is actually still the most common way to learn online with a pre-determined schedule. Students are able to work from anywhere provided they log onto the learning site at the scheduled times.

Advantages of online education

In order to fully understand the what to expect from online learning and online degrees, you should recognize its big advantages compared to traditional classroom learning. The advantages of online learning can be summarized with “flexibility” and “convenience”:

Flexibility:

  1. you choose the hours of study and (virtual) classroom schedules.
  2. you choose the methodology of study among a variety of options under supervision.
  3. you choose the order of subjects and therefore credits earned
  4. you can sometimes even determine the ways and the timing for your evaluations and examinations
  5. options to chose among qualified professors
  6. you can choose to pause and resume your studies according to your needs without loosing credits

Convenience:

  1. no travel to classroom
  2. no need to get to know people and get along with each other
  3. no need to dress up

Money:

  1. no fees to use school facilities
  2. no fees for room and board
  3. no transportation costs (car, petrol etc.)

Disadvantages of online educational

Reputation: Still there are groups of people that do not recognize online degrees as equivalent to regular university degrees. Make sure you do enroll at online degrees taught at regular universities, so you will maximize your changes of recognition. Also, pay attention to degree and institutional accreditations.

Ensuring the quality of online degrees

Being enrolled in an accredited online degree program, means that a regulatory body, the accrediting agencies look over the quality of educational programs and make sure that excellent academic quality is maintained.

Regular educational institutions such as colleges, universities, vocational or graduate schools as well as online schools are all treated the same, thus have at least one accrediting agency. Moreover, in the United States, there are national and even the more strict regional accreditation agencies that ensure that the value of online degrees are worthwhile and advantageous to the students as the regular degrees are.

Currently, there are three types of institutions that offer online degrees, which are characterized as follows:

1) diploma mills – privately owned businesses that sell fake degrees that are worth nothing

2) internet only institutions – depending on set of educational standards, can be reputable or not so reputable

3) online programs at traditional institutions – usually a special section of a traditional offline college or university, offering online degrees under the same standards as in the offline degrees

Therefore, you really need to familiarize yourself with the credibility of an institution offering online degrees as well as the online degrees themselves.

Hints to deal with a credible online degree at a reputable institution, look out for:

  • a regular application process with required prerequisites, test scores etc.
  • selecting major and minors
  • fiixed set of courses with corresponding units up to unit requirements for the degree completition

How to decide for an online degree

Meanwhile top universities of the world are offering their own online courses and online degrees become more and more legitimate. Also employers increasingly accept graduates of online degrees and acknowledge that standards of education both online and traditional are based on the same standards. Moreover, experience has shown that graduating from online universities and completing a degree entirely through distance education, requires a lot of discipline and motivation from the student – character traits and soft skills that are of high value to every employer.

Due to the lack of necessary physical buildings, online schools in several forms have been evolved, among them some fake schools that promote themselves through nice websites trying to scam potential students.

Following are several tips to choose the right online degree, that helps to really pursue your career goals:

1) Accreditation and Affiliation

Check the accreditation as well as affiliation of a school and compare it to other schools. Some schools might have affiliations that are recognized in other continents or countries like Europe, giving you a competitive edge when applying internationally. By choosing a good accreditation, your chances of applying successfully for a job are much higher.

2) Reknown schools

As already mentioned, the online degree industry is a relatively new industry with many schools evolving that are not really trustworthy and do not give you the same edge in qualification as known traditional schools do. So, we recommend, you choose a school that already have a name in a traditional setting or is really known as a pure distance university or college. Signs of a better school are detailed curriculums and qualified personnel who is also recognized publicly.

3) Faculty check

As quickly mentioned above, faculty should be recognized publicly and highly educated in their field of study. In order to judge their qualification, look for their degrees, their experience in the industry or in teaching. It is easy and it can be done quickly to research people online, so do not skip this important factor to determine the quality of the online school you want to attend.

4) Check the degree applicability

There will always be certain degrees that are not ideal to be taught and studies from a remote location such as those that usually demand practical work in laboratories or other facilities of the schools. Without using these costly facilities, learning experience is hard to deliver through online education. If the degrees allow more research and writing, your degree will most likely be ideal for taking it online.

Around two or three decades ago, distance learning methods did not have the same standards as traditional education with limited instructor support and secondary skills training. The invention of the internet increased the technical capabilities for interaction and communication, thus it helped develop distance education by a huge step within a couple of years. Meanwhile almost all colleges and universities offer online degrees at a quality that is comparable to regular degrees. Its quality is assured through private chats with faculty, forums, voice over internet teleconferencing and online communities.

Tips for finishing your degree on time

Online degrees require the same commitment as degrees in a traditional class setting, they require the same amount of work and even more discipline. However, since you do not have to physically present in a classroom, a lot of time can be saved for travelling back and forth to the university and classroom.

The following guidelines will help you to successfully complete your degree within the given time frame:

1. Attendance as required

Since most distance education systems require to log onto classes on a fixed schedule, you should attend these classes as in a traditional setting without any interruptions and distractions. You do not have to be somewhere at a certain time, you just need to connect to the virtual classroom at the scheduled times which is just a matter of good time management.

2. Participation in virtual classrooms

In distance learning concepts, virtual classroom meetings on fixed schedules are common. Therefore, it makes sense, that your active participation in chats and video conferences might give you a competitive edge over your classmates and an add-on for receiving better grades, which is a common thing in regular classroom settings. Since many of those virtual meetings do only require oral communication, people who are afraid of speaking in front of a classroom will benefit from these online meetings as well, because there is no need to show your face.

3. Term/project paper

Since distance learning does not always require class attendance or even tests, one of the only criteria to finish classes with good grades is to pass all set term papers and projects. Plan ahead to start studying early so your chances to finish these papers with good grades is higher.

Determine what degree to chose

You should chose that type of online degree that best suits best your personal interests and aspirations. It will be best in the long run if you graduate in a degree that suits your personal desires and interests than other subjects do, because that way it is more likely you will be good in your job and further education is done by personal motivation than professional thinking.

Then look at accredited online schools offering your pursued degree of interest. By selecting just accredited online degree programs and schools, it will be much more probable that future employers will recognize your degree as trustworthy and respected as a profound qualification.

In a third step, make sure to get details about the contents of the degree with all classes and syllabi to look into details of the program for a good fit. The classes and subjects should reflect a modern, future-oriented approach to the subject so .

In a fourth step, check application requirements and chances of credits former education and potentially professional experience. The more credit you get, the better but never sacrifice educational quality for credits.

In general, research many potential online degrees, weigh them against each other in terms of academic quality, degree contents, tuition fees and academic outlook, at best with a pros and cons table. The more profound research, the wiser decision you will end up with. Do not forget, it might be the decision for your career, for your whole life.

Determine if online education is right for you

As mentioned before, online education has lots of advantages over traditional education, provided that you know what online education is the right choice for you and you can cope with the challenges of this different form of education.

You need to get to know the methods of distance education and what it is like to learn the virtual way. You need to research:

  • how to adjust to a virtual classroom settings
  • the equipment you need for your studies
  • peoples feedback on how they coped the challenges of virtual learning
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