Before and as you begin looking for a school to earn your online degree, there are several things you need to ask yourself and consider to determine if it’s the right educational program for you.
- What is your major going to be?
Higher education is not something to take lightly and pick a major out of a hat for; know what it is you want to do and why. Focus on your plans for that degree after your schooling is finished, and then pick schools and programs that will best take you toward your desires.
- What is your learning style?
And what other personal needs do you have for a happy lifestyle? Even if you decide that an online education is not suited to you, determining these factors will take you far in offline schools as well, so put time and effort into it. When you know how you learn best, you can supplement your own education with materials you know will work for you and improve your grades considerably. More importantly, however, is how much stress it’ll shave off.
- Do you have the right computer for the job, and a reliable internet connection that is unlikely to interfere with my online education?
If you are going to use Photoshop or Maya 3D, you need a computer in your home capable of handling these programs or passing class will be a chore. I learned this the hard way. If you don’t have a strong enough computer– are you willing to get one? Will it fit your education budget?
You also need to have an internet service provider that isn’t cutting your connection constantly. This is rarer today than it used to be thanks to improved services, but if you’re not happy with your internet provider, you had better find one you are happy with before your grade starts depending on your connection’s reliability.
- Is there a chance you will want to go to physical school after a time?
Some choose distance education because of temporary problems or housing situations. There are traditional schools that offer online courses, typically meaning you will have the option to change from distance learning to a traditional, in-school course plan and college experience. It’s important to choose a school like this if you foresee the possibility.
I once believed I would eventually go to college traditionally, so I only “started” going to school online. It was such a fantastic experience that I decided not to change it, but the fact of the matter is there are schools that definitely allow it.
- Are you willing to call schools and ask for specifics?
Online schools run their courses differently from one college to the next. The best way to get familiar with a school is to call and ask some questions. Think of it as how students out of high school will often go exploring campuses to make sure they want to spend the next four years at a place. Just because you’re not moving doesn’t mean you shouldn’t investigate the way school operates.
In the end…
The only way to make a proper decision about whether or not an online school is to know yourself, and then to know the schools you are looking at. The more information you have in front of you, the easier it will be to decide. It’s much more effective for you to spend a few days or even weeks researching than it is to spend thousands of dollars and months of you time before you come to realize this may have not been the proper choice. Know yourself. Research. Even if you decide to take another path in life, it will not have been wasted time.