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What Everyone Ought to Know about Online College Education

Updated on April 8, 2013

Distance Learning and You: Important Facts to Consider

Attending college is expensive, time consuming and also one of the best investments a person can make for their future. In their quest to complete a college degree, more and more students are utilizing online education to meet their goals. Online education is especially well-suited to students who work full time or have to meet the demands of family life.

Distance learning is not for everyone, but for people who are disciplined and good at time management and motivating themselves, it can be the perfect solution. People who need teachers to keep them on track and motivated do not do well in online classes, usually.

Successful students in online programs are those who can set their own goals and stay motivated. They rarely procrastinate when it comes to turning in assignments or writing papers. They also enjoy working at their own pace to get through their material.

The successful students are able to set aside a place free of distractions to complete their work, and know how to ignore distractions. Online college students must have excellent reading and comprehension skills because they will not get the benefit of sitting in lectures, listening and taking notes.

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Online College Education Requires a lot of Reading

Most online classes require students to understand information provided only through written material. Successful distance learners do not feel the need for the social aspects of traditional college campuses and socialize outside the college environments.

They may be active participants in the college’s online email lists or other groups. Before enrolling in an online school, consider if you are a good match with online learning.

Benefit to your Career

It is crucial to select an online program that will benefit you in your future career. Make sure to do your due diligence by asking questions and thoroughly understanding the expectations of the program. Most importantly, make sure the program you are considering is accredited by the appropriate regional or national agencies. Non-accredited schools will provide you with less leverage for career advancement, and come without the backing of oversight by accreditation organizations.

Cost of Distance Education

Understand the total costs associated with your distance learning program, including hidden costs such as internet connections, supplemental materials and testing. Find out if financial aid such as scholarships, student loans or grants are available to distant learning participants.

Learn how you will obtain your class materials online, and what face-to-face meetings with your instructor may be required. Some online courses require testing on campus, for instance, so make sure you can accommodate this before enrolling. Also find out what other assistance such as tutoring, advising and career placement services are offered to you as an online student.

What is Expected of You in Online Learning

Online schools will expect you to participate in learning activities with your classmates and your instructors via the online learning management system used by your school. You will use materials such as interactive lessons, video demonstrations, PowerPoint presentation as well as regular textbooks you may purchase.

You will have to complete and turn in reading assignments, comments in the class discussion forums, group projects, quizzes, term papers and homework, and of course, mid-term and final exams. Plan to spend at least the same amount of time in a distance learning class as you would in a regular class including study time.


Online Degrees: Bachelors, Masters and Doctorate Programs

Online degrees are available for the full range of programs from certificates and associates degrees, to bachelors, masters and even doctorate programs. Both public and private universities and colleges offer online degrees and students are usually able to access federal financial aid at accredited online schools just as do their traditional college counterparts.

Most traditional colleges accept transfer credits from work done online. In the same vein, online schools will generally accept credits earned at more traditional colleges. Some even give you credit for life and work experience you received prior to enrolling in classes.

All ages and backgrounds of people become distance learners. Their reasons vary from personal learning style to managing the world of work and family in addition to attending college. Online colleges provide options for many people in different circumstances. Decide if you are a good match with online classes and if you are able to maintain the self-discipline required to benefit from distance learning.


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