A virtual education is not the wave of the future - it's an important resource in your career development right now. With the cost of brick and mortar universities skyrocketing, enrollment in online courses is at an all-time high.
High caliber programs taught by esteemed professors are readily available - even the most reputable traditional institutions offer programs online. Read on to learn more about the types of online education that are available and how to choose the option that best suits your needs.
When your career hits a brick wall, it’s easy to curse yourself for not staying in school and getting a degree, or for not going to college in the first place. Stop badmouthing your past self and pole vault over that wall with a distance learning program. The Internet has made online education as easy as turning on your computer, so you can go after a promotion, take your career to the next level with a Master's degree online, or find a whole new field to conquer.
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Face it - college is not a cheap endeavor. However, some online schools do charge less than brick-and-mortar universities, and you may find one that converts your real-world experience into credit toward your degree, so you save some cash by taking fewer classes. You’ll also save money by eliminating transportation costs to and from the school, plus the associated fees you would normally accumulate by being a part-time student. You can also find top online schools offering Financial Aid.
While there are many online-only schools, the trend toward education over the Internet has influenced many established, traditional universities to offer online programs. Attending classes online means you aren't limited to local or even regional schools, so you can choose a university that best suits your needs, no matter where it's located. You can stay right where you are, and never worry about carpooling or housing.
A true perk of distance education is making your own schedule. With online learning, you can take classes, watch video lectures and learn at your own pace, when it's convenient for you. For the most part, class time starts when you want, so you can make room for it around work, family and other responsibilities. Perhaps your only free time is in the morning, or you're just a night owl who absorbs information better when the rest of the world is asleep. Online programs give you the advantage of fitting an education in around your busy life and allow you to go to school on your time.
In a regular classroom situation, there can be dozens or even hundreds of classmates to one professor, making it difficult to get one-on-one time if you have questions. With online schools, the class sizes are smaller and it's easier to ask questions through online chat or Skype sessions. Some schools also provide online mentors who check in with you on a regular basis via e-mail, chats and phone calls to see if you need assistance or clarification.
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If you complete your degree with an online education, you know you've accomplished something extraordinary. You've made room in your life for learning amid family, work and other responsibilities. You've held yourself accountable for watching the videos, doing the class work and participating in lectures. Getting an online degree means you have the self-discipline and drive to succeed, and that's something more and more employers are noticing. Initiative and experience are a powerful combination on a resume.
Not sure if you have the organizational skills and self-discipline to continue your education online? Try a dry run with free courses available from several universities, including MIT, Harvard, Penn State and more. If you can stick with it through the entire course, you have the basic skills to tackle a distance learning degree.
Beth Bartlett is a freelance writer who writes on lots of business topics, including how to remove personal information from online sources.