With technology constantly advancing, it seems like everyday more and more things are moving online. You can read the newspaper, pay your bills, watch your favorite television show, and shop for shoes all from the comfort of your own home. Pressed for time, it seems only natural that many people are now turning to online degree programs as a way to advance their education. Especially convenient for full-time workers and stay-at-home parents, online education programs provide a flexible schedule that is great for any student struggling to make it to traditional classes. In fact, a 2016 study by the Department of Education found that on average, students perform better in online classes than in traditional classes.
But before beginning any online degree program, students must make sure that it is the right choice for them. First and foremost, any student considering an online degree program must have access to the following resources:
- A Computer – It may seem obvious, but students taking online classes need to have a computer. Students who do not have access to a computer at home or at work may be able to use one at the local college or library, but it could be a hassle. Since you will be completing all of your assignments on the computer, you want it to be as convenient as possible for you to get your work done. Students will have access to their assignments anytime, day or night, but a computer lab at a college or library may not always be open when you need it.
- The Internet – In addition to a computer, students must have access to the Internet. All of the lecture notes, reading materials and assignments guidelines you will need to complete your classes are online. A high-speed, wireless Internet connection is probably the best option, and make sure that you have reliable access.
- An e-mail Account – Because there are no face-to-face class meetings for online education programs, students will be communicating with classmates and professors a lot via e-mail. Students should have an e-mail account that they can check regularly for class updates and use to correspond with professors, classmates and academic advisors. If students do not already have an e-mail account, then they can set up one for free from such Internet websites as Google, Yahoo and Microsoft’s Hotmail service.
It is important for students to keep in mind that they will be using these technologies on a regular basis. While you do not have to be a computer expert to take an online class, you should feel relatively comfortable using a computer, navigating the Internet and sending an e-mail. Students with little computer knowledge may want to reconsider an online degree program.
In addition to these technology requirements, students who are thinking about pursuing an online education program should have strong writing skills and possess the necessary motivation and self-discipline to complete their degree. Without face-to-face discussions, students will have to express their thoughts and ideas via e-mail, discussion forums and chat rooms, so good writing skills are a must. Students must be comfortable working on their own to complete assignments and to solve any problems that may arise along the way. Immediate feedback may not always be available.
An online degree program can be a great opportunity for people to advance your education. It is incredibly flexible and convenient, which makes it easy to get the skills you need while maintaining your already hectic schedule. However, as with any college search, it is important to make sure that an online degree program is the best option for you. Students considering an online education must have access to a computer, the Internet and an e-mail account, and they should feel relatively comfortable using these technologies. In addition, they should consider whether or not they have the writing skills and personality requirements necessary to successfully finish an online degree. Once you determine that an online education is the right choice for you, there are plenty of degree programs available to meet all of your educational and professional goals.