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The Online Option: What You Should Know

The Online Option: What You Should Know


Are you a full-time employee, a single parent or both? Does it seem you just don’t have enough time to pursue a “real” degree?

If so, then online education may just be the thing you need. It’s a great way to earn a degree while working. Online courses and degree programs are developed specifically to provide the flexibility needed to fit a busy schedule. In fact, thousands of single parents and full-time workers earn their degrees each year using online education. Most schools offer online programs that range from associate’s to master’s degrees and, depending on the course, may take as little as one to two hours a day, three days a week.

How Online Education Works

Online courses follow the same format as traditional college courses, with a professor, textbooks, homework, exams, etc. However online courses have a much higher degree of flexibility and usually use a combination of message boards, e-mail, chat rooms, CD-ROMs and textbooks. In a typical online course, the professor will post weekly reading assignments, study questions and schedule a group online chat time. The student must post answers to the study questions and respond to at least one other student’s postings by the end of that week. Online courses typically have weekly deadlines — however, your daily/weekly study schedule is completely up to you. At the end of the course or module you will have a final exam (lower level) or written essay requirement (upper level) summarizing the context of the class.

Your Key to Success

Just like in traditional college classroom courses, your success comes from a willingness to commit to your coursework. On average, online students spend a couple of hours a day studying. It is also essential for you to have a strong desire to learn and remain focused on the goal of earning the college degree — it is your degree that will expand your career opportunities. Are Online College Courses for Real?

Yes. Many people share your concern about the validity of online college programs. Online programs are offered by many big-name, fully accredited and esteemed schools like Penn State, Phoenix University, the University of Washington and Capella University, to name a few. However you should remember: “Don’t buy into an image, buy into a degree.” Many small-name colleges offer online courses that may best fit your needs and budget.

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