You are wondering if the idea of going back to school is feasible, especially with the schedule you maintain. You ask yourself, how can I go to school when I get off work at 5 p.m. (some days), take care of the kids and manage day-to-day responsibilities?
The answer is with online classes. However, as hectic as your schedule may seem, it is important to gather as much information as possible to determine if an online learning environment provides the resources you need to earn a degree. Here are some questions you should ask yourself to determine if online classes are right for you:
- Why are you leaning towards online?
- Good Reason: You have a life, a job, a family and responsibilities. The fact is that your life is not going to stop simply because you are looking to improve your knowledge. However, the fact that you have a life should not be what stops you from pursuing your goals. Online means many things in modern education. Synchronous, asynchronous, technology-enhanced, simulcast and live lecture online courses may all be available on the landscape of higher education. These solutions provide you a unique way to balance your work/life/education schedule in a more flexible manner than a static set of campus-based classes.
- Bad Reason: You think online learning will be easier. Think again, because more often than not, what you experience is an additional “time tax” when it comes to online courses, especially in the very flexible asynchronous “do it whenever you want” courses. Consider, in a class lecture at a campus-based course, you may experience a 20-minute lecture and 40-minute discussion with the instructor and your classmates. That same class offered online may have the same lecture and discussions as the campus-based course; however, they may require you to read the lecture and write out your discussion comments and questions. Reading and writing something typically takes a person longer than hearing and speaking.
- What are your academic assets and liabilities as a student?
- Assets for an online student: Highly organized, great time management skills, strong comprehension in most subject matter, strong math skills, great written communication and comprehension skills, and knows how and when they study best.
- Liabilities for an online student: Needs a lot of direction from the professor, has trouble managing time, cannot navigate a course syllabus without help, has significant struggles with certain academic subjects, remedial math skills, substandard written communication and comprehension skills, and has trouble focusing on studies or setting aside time to study.
- Do you fear an online degree will be viewed with negativity or bias when compared to a campus-based degree?
- First, it is important you understand most major colleges and universities in the United States offer many of their courses in an online format, or they offer degrees that are completely online. A significant number of the degrees offered in the past 10 years have had either some or most of their program completed entirely online. When you get your transcript, it will not distinguish between the courses you took online, on campus or even blended online/on campus. Additionally, your degree will not distinguish the way you earned your degree.
- Second, be sure you are not letting some of the universities better known for being “online” taint your impression of online academics in general. Focus more on the quality of the institution when it comes to selecting an online program and focus less on the mode of study and instruction you will engage in at that institution. If the college or university is strong, you will know it whether you are studying online or on campus.
- Who is your support network?
- Positive people matter. In pursuing your degree, you will be undertaking an additional positive stressor in your life. Yes, it will be hard and yes, it will be worth it. This means you will experience difficulties in your online program. Because you will be away from the natural support network of a campus, you will need to make positive connections with classmates and members of faculty and staff at the school. More importantly, you will need to surround yourself with positive people in your personal life. Family and friends who support you will be vital to the times you feel like you are in a rut. They will need to be there to help remind you of why you are doing this and that it is a good decision.
- Negative people matter. Not everyone is always happy to see someone else try to better himself or herself. Identify people in your life who may act as a point of discouragement when it comes to your goals. This does not mean you should write them off or disassociate yourself from them. It simply means they may not realize they are affecting you negatively with what they do or say. Additionally, you have to understand that they may not know why you have decided to enroll in school.
- Be honest with yourself about your motivation.
- It is more important to determine if you are ready to become a student than determining if you are ready or aligned to succeed in an online degree program. There are three basic ingredients you need to be successful in any academic endeavor: time, effort and money. It is an investment of your time, and it will be your work and effort that make the grades and earn the degree. You will make a financial investment, big or small, in pursuit of your degree. These are necessary sacrifices, but must also be worth it to you. This means your motivation has to be powerful enough to justify those sacrifices not only when you start, but all the way through to the end.
- You may already have this attribute, but you should to learn to appreciate and embrace the learning process and the acquisition of knowledge. The opportunity to learn has to motivate you. Without it, a degree program can feel monotonous and grinding.
Are you considering online classes? If so, visit Academics at Hodges to discover our online programs today. Need additional information? Contact one our admissions coordinators to help you determine which learning style is best for you.