Many students benefit from distance learning, particularly those who cannot afford the high costs of full-time Course or live too far from campus. However, although these courses have their advantages, it isn’t a given that they’re the right option for everyone. If you’re considering enrolling in one, there are many things to factor into your decision.
1. Is It Going To Be Cost Effective?
Don’t enroll in any online course without first working out whether or not it will be financially worth your while. Education is expensive and requires a substantial financial commitment. Weigh this up against the potential extra income you could earn with this particular degree. If it’s going to put you in debt for the rest of your working life, it probably isn’t financially worth it. If you will be able to recoup your costs reasonably quickly, it’s definitely a feasible option.
2. Will It Be Recognized By Your Industry?
Given the number of online institutions offering degrees, companies are entitled to be a bit sceptical and cautious about employing someone who has one. Therefore, whilst your online degree is obviously perfectly legitimate (or should be if you’ve done your homework!), consider providing a thorough explanation about its accreditation anyway to avoid confusion.
Emphasising that your degree’s accrediting body is recognised by all relevant educational and industry authorities removes any scepticism companies may have about its legitimacy. Online fire industry certifications, for instance, must be accredited by the relevant state training authorities.
3. Does It Offer Credit Transfers
Most legitimate online educational facilities have credit transfer arrangements with other institutions or will accept verifiable credit transfers in general. This allows you to transfer credits for courses you’ve already completed from other institutions and avoid having to redo them. However, to get these credit transfers you will need to obtain and submit the required documentation.
4. Make Sure You Choose A Legitimate Online Educational Facility
‘Degree mills’ abound on the Internet. These places sell degrees without providing much quality in the way of education or student support. They are also not recognised by industry in most cases. Some may even be considered fraudulent.
Therefore, before registering for any online course, do your due diligence. Conduct a thorough check of the online ‘college’ you are considering. Check their credentials with the appropriate authorities to confirm their certification and legitimacy. For example, if you’re considering doing an online Fire Inspector course, check with the relevant State Fire College to make sure it is accredited.
5. Develop The Character Traits You’ll Need To See The Course Through
Many students don’t have the dedication, commitment or discipline required to successfully complete an online course. They lose focus and motivation, or are easily distracted when they don’t have a teacher standing in front of them and classmates to keep them going. Therefore, if you want to get an online degree, make sure you will be able to commit to seeing it through. Most of these courses are not refundable if you decide not to see it through.
6. (Learn How To) Use The Communication Facilities Provided
Many online educational providers offer a range of electronic mediums through which students can communicate with lecturers and other students. This includes email communications, interactive online tutorials and classes, chat rooms, and forums. If these are available to you, make full use of them. They will help keep you motivated and focussed. If you don’t know how to use some of these technologies, make a point of learning.
7. Develop The Ability To Use The Resources Provided – You’ve Paid For Them!
Your online education provider has almost certainly made a range of electronic resources available to you to help you complete the course material. Given that you’ve probably paid for them with your course, you may as well make full use of them. These resources may include access to online research facilities, virtual libraries, and e-books.