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Going back to college online
Going back to college has never been an easy thing to do. Trying to juggle a full or part time job, family duties, and children has always made it hard to make the time and travel to campus to complete a college education. This is not the case anymore! With new advances in technology, mainly the internet, it is now possible to obtain a college degree from the comfort of your own home. One still has to schedule online college with existing responsibilities and obligations, but not having to drive to campus to attend class is a huge benefit to many of us. It is even possible to attend an out of state school if you so desire. All of the same financial aid benefits are available to online college students and if you already have some courses under your belt, you could probably transfer them to your new online school.
How to Find an Online College
It is extremely easy to find an online college these days. The first television ad I remember seeing was for University of Phoenix. Then recently I started seeing ads for Kaplan University and now a day doesn't go by where I don't see that gal singing the catchy jingle. I am sure those are all great programs, but if you really want to go to college online, I would suggest looking in your own back yard. Not literally of course, but do some research on state colleges. The reason being is you are most likely to get cheaper tuition from a state school than you would for an out of state college. When I started going back to college online, I first enrolled at Kaplan University. After a couple of semesters I looked into a state school here in Florida and was amazed at the savings in tuition! Needless to say I ended up transferring.
You more than likely will not see a commercial for your state colleges on television, but all you have to do is call them up and ask if they offer distance learning. Make sure you research the information on what programs they offer online. Even though they offer distance learning, there are some programs that might be "on campus" only. The other thing you need to check on is their policy on testing. When I attended Kaplan University, the whole class was done online, even the tests. The state school I am at now though I have to travel to campus to take my mid terms and finals. Just make sure you are able to travel to campus if it is required of you. If the campus is too far away, you can check to see if you can take your tests at a location closer to you. Some colleges will let you take the test at a Prometric testing center.
Guides to Distance Learning from Amazon.com!
Self Discipline is Required
One of the biggest obstacles to obtaining an online college education is self discipline. A lot of the classes are self paced and one can easily fall behind if they procrastinate. Since most communication with the professor is done via email, it is easy to ignore them when they start asking about late work, if they even email you at all. If you are the "i'll get to it tomorrow" type of person, you really need to spend some serious time thinking if going to college online is the right thing for you. There is a flip side to this also. All of your course work is given to you in a schedule at the beginning of the semester and there is nothing stopping you from completing the course work ahead of schedule. There may even be bonus points awarded for turning in early projects or tests. So depending on your personality and work ethics, going to college online can be a great experience or a waste of your time and money.
How Does Online College Work?
Depending on the University, there are different things you need to accomplish on a schedule. For instance, one class I attended required us to attend a weekly chat session, participate on a discussion board on a weekly basis, and turn in a written project each week. However, another class I am enrolled in requires us to take a weekly quiz, turn in a weekly chapter summary of our reading, and email our professor once a week with what we did that week. Depending on your online college, each course may follow the same structure or you may have different requirements based on the individual professor and course.
Most online colleges have a site for you to log into, sometimes called a "portal" where you get access to your course work. You probably also have an email account assigned to you from the school to communicate with professors and other students. The online chat sessions, if required, are just a big chat room where the students listen to the professor lecture. This is done via typing or some professors choose to use audio. For submitting your assignments, rather then email them as attachments, you will more than likely have a section in your portal for dropping off work, typically called a "drop box". This makes it easier for the professor as they can collect the whole classes' assignments at once rather than download separate attachments from their email.
The Benefits of Going to College Online
The learning curve on going to college online can be steep, but once you get the hang of it, it really is an efficient way to gain an education. Here are some of the benefits of distance learning:
- No driving to class. This not only saves you time, but also money in gas!
- No need for a baby sitter. As long as your kids aren't a huge distraction, you can go to class while they watch TV.
- You can do other things while in class. Eat your dinner, fold laundry, or even just relax outside with your laptop.
- If you ever miss a class, there is usually a transcript of the lecture available to download. No need to get class notes from a friend anymore.
So far going back to college online has been a good experience for me. I am not the most motivated person in the world but so far I find it rather engaging. At thirty five years old, working full time, with 2 kids and a wife that works nights (and also goes to school), if I can do it then so can you.