Top Things to Consider When Starting an Online Degree Program

Top Things to Consider When Starting an Online Degree Program

For most young adults in America, the prospect of going to college upon graduating high school is an exciting one. There is the cliché picture of packing up and going off to college to live in a dormitory on campus. Classes, socializing, and an entirely new sense of independence are typically associated with the process.

That being said, young students have more options at their disposal these days when it comes to their education. While it is still the case that most professions are easier to pursue with a college degree, you don’t have to resign yourself to going off to college in the traditional sense if you don’t want to.

The fact of the matter is that many students aren’t interested in the classic college experience anymore. Not only is such an experience an incredibly expensive one, but it can be challenging in other aspects as well. Many students aren’t ready or prepared to entirely move out of their homes and live life independently.

There are a variety of other reasons why you yourself might not want to go to college in the traditional sense when you graduate from high school. The good news is that it is still perfectly possible to earn your degree and set yourself up for success in your future career through learning your college degree online.

When you take online classes, you are able to learn from virtually anywhere and, in many cases, at a faster rate than traditional college students. It is important to remember, though, that earning a degree online is something that comes with its own set of challenges.

With that in mind, if you are about to enroll in an online degree program, here are a few of the more important things that you should think about in order to ensure that you are as successful as possible throughout the course of your education.

You Can Still Get Involved as an Online Student

Many students who are considering earning their degrees online are afraid that in doing so they will miss out on opportunities to get involved. While there are several ways in which getting involved is easier when you are living and studying on campus, it is still entirely possible to do so while earning your degree online.

Start by considering the major that you have taken on. You will more than likely be able to find organizations for students who are at the same stage in their education as you. Such organizations can make it easy to get involved and connect with other students in your field of study.

The same goes for graduate students as well as undergraduate students. For instance, if you are in the process of earning your master’s degree in social work online, you can look to join any number of student and professional organizations to help you get involved. In this way, you don’t have to miss out on similar opportunities that are available on college campuses.

Your Schedule Will Be More Flexible

When a student enrolls in a degree program on a university or college campus, they are essentially signing themselves up for a very specific sort of schedule. Depending on their field of study, they might see themselves taking 15 or more hours of classes each week. Some majors also involve clinical study or labs in order to complete all required work. Needless to say, full-time students on a college campus are kept quite busy.

This might not be a feasible way of earning your degree for you personally. Perhaps you have a job that you are unable to walk away from at this time for financial reasons. There might also be family obligations and other responsibilities in your life that make it impossible to earn your degree in this format.

Thankfully, online degree programs are far more flexible in general than the traditional method of going to college. You can study from home or wherever you need to via your laptop and plan your classes and study time around your already hectic schedule. This way, you can still enjoy all of the opportunities that a college degree offers without having to compromise in other areas of your life.

You Can Have Access to the Resources You Need

Another potential issue that students who are considering an online degree come across is the thought that they will not have access to the same resources from their university as in-person students. To be sure, many college campuses are equipped with impressive libraries, study spaces, and on-campus advisors. However, just because you are learning remotely, this doesn’t mean that you won’t have access to such things.

Depending on where you live, it might be entirely possible for you to make it to campus once or twice a week to take advantage of such resources. Otherwise, there are still ways in which you can benefit from all that your university has to offer.

For example, most schools these days have online libraries as the traditional brick and mortar style of library becomes more and more outdated. You will more than likely have the ability to download and use the majority of the books that you will need for research and additional study through your university’s online library.

Furthermore, you will have your own advisor through your school with whom you can connect whenever you need academic guidance and advice. Virtual study groups, one-on-one conferences with professors, and other helpful resources are all available to students who are earning their degrees via an online program.

Your Study Space is Incredibly Important

One of the challenges that you might face when you are going through the process of earning your degree online pertains to your ability to focus on your coursework. With so many distractions around you, finding a way to focus in on your studies and get your work done on time can be difficult.

This is why you should take the time prior to actually starting your degree program to set up a study space that is just for you. Try to designate an entire room with a door (if possible) for this purpose. That way, you can close the door on all distractions in your home when you really need to get work completed.

Other things to make sure you have in your study space include a comfortable work desk and chair, strong and reliable internet access, and plenty of natural light. With such a study space, you will surely be able to find the focus that you need to perform well in your online classes.

You Need to Choose Your School Wisely

These days you would be hard pressed to find a school or university that doesn’t offer some sort of online education options. Whether the university you have your eye on only offers some classes online or if they have programs that are entirely virtual, there are certainly going to be several options for you to consider.

It is important to remember, though, that not all universities offer the same sort of quality in their online education programs as others. There are many schools that have been offering this sort of education for some time and others that are relatively new to the game.

Because your education is important to you and your future success, you want to make sure that the school you choose is going to be able to offer you the sort of education that you need. Take a look to see how long the school you are considering has been offering online degree programs. Those who have been doing so successfully for some time will likely be more reliable and better equipped to give you a quality education that others who aren’t as experienced with such things.

Moreover, you should make sure that the school you go with is able to properly equip students who are in the major you want to pursue with all the skills and knowledge they need to be successful. Check out employment success rates and the like before you make your decision so that you know you will be making a good investment in your future.

Find a School That Fits Your Budget

Earning an online degree is (generally speaking) more affordable than attending college in the traditional sense. Not only can you potentially save a great deal on your cost-of-living expenses, but tuition on college campuses is something that seems to increase with each passing year.

Nevertheless, as more and more schools offer online degree options, some are charging a premium to online students these days. While it is important to remember that you are making an investment in your future, such an investment needs to make sense when weighed against your earning potential upon graduation.

The best thing you can do is make a shortlist of options for online schools and see how the numbers compare to one another. When you make sure that you are getting the best value for your investment, you can rest easy knowing that your degree is going to be a worthwhile one.

About the author


Steven Ly

Steven Ly is the Startup Program and Events Manager at TheNextHint Inc. She recruits rockstar startups for all TC events including Disrupt, meetups, Sessions, and more both domestically and internationally. Previously, she helped produce Dreamforce with Salesforce and Next '17 with Google. Prior to that, she was on the advertising teams at both Facebook and AdRoll, helping support advertisers in North America and helped grow those brands globally. Outside of work, Priya enjoys Flywheel, tacos, the 49ers, and adventuring around the globe.

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