The world of education is in the midst of a giant shift. While COVID-19 helped to accelerate the process, for the last two decades there has been a rise in online education and virtual degree programs. Now with remote learning gaining even more traction amongst those in higher education, it is important for potential learners to evaluate the appropriateness of an online degree program for themselves and their objectives. Learning online can bring along tremendous benefits. It is a useful avenue for advancing your education and your career while doing so on your own time and often at a fraction of the price of traditional learning institutions. So how can you know if an online degree program is right for you?
Flexibility in an online degree program is almost a given since most understand that often the main priority for those taking the online route is being able to work around their schedules. Still, the flexibility of each program varies. If you attend a formal institution, online, they might expect you to commit more to certain rules than others. Some programs, like our Liberal Studies degree through Daemen University, allow you to earn your degree entirely at your own pace, even allowing you to reset due dates and such if you miss too much.
However, some students require a bit more stringency when it comes to their scheduling for them to truly gain value. They need the pressure of being in a class, even if virtual, or sticking to strict deadlines. That’s why some programs actually make it mandatory to be in zoom lectures or to follow certain due dates. Failure to do so can lead to restarting the class or simply being kicked out. It is important that you understand what works for your schedule and learning style when deciding on an online program.
Not all online programs are equal. Beyond the actual courses offered, many use a variety of teachers and qualifying techniques that can affect the level of the programs. Taking online courses through accredited institutions can ensure a quality education and can be a boost to your career. An accredited institution is one that is officially authorized or approved. As in other countries, accreditation in the U.S. is a stamp that a college or university meets basic standards and can be translated in professional circles to a ‘proper’ degree. For example, our program with Daemen University is accredited as Daemen is an accredited institution. While it may seem trivial now, having the backing of a formal institution, even if the courses were taken online, carries a lot of weight when it comes to future employment.
Starting any course or degree program online should begin with the right reason. Otherwise, there is no real reason to start an online degree program that will make you devote time and energy to it. Understanding what you hope to gain is key to picking the right degree program for you. Perhaps you just need some additional professional training and only need to take a few courses. Or, it could be that you need a degree if you are hoping to move to another job. Regardless, being able to clearly point to what knowledge and result you want from your online program will help you pick the right one for you.
As part of your degree search, we highly advise you to go through this thought process as you look for what may be right for your needs. In doing so, you’ll be more prepared to start a program and more likely to finish it.