Distance learning and online schools can help you make a change in your life. You can obtain the education you want while holding down a full-time job, raising a family, or keeping up with the numerous other responsibilities that have been holding you back. Online learning lets you skip the commute and the class schedules and focus on your studies when it's convenient for you.
Through one of theseschools, you can open the door to an almost limitless selection of programs and education levels. From vocational trades to health care and business programs, and everything in between, there is a distance learning program designed to help you achieve your career goals.
Online learning has evolved in recent years thanks to increasing access to the Internet, which means that your learning experience comes with plenty of support. Tutors, timely access to faculty, student chat rooms, and electronic textbooks are all features that can help you get the most out of your education.
Your options for attending school online are growing by the day. If you're considering this as a route to a post-secondary degree, or just want to supplement your existing education, you are in very good company. Start your education journey right now by finding the right school for you. Or, if you're looking for a bit more information about online training first, this article can provide an excellent place to begin.
Online schools are going mainstream. So explore these education resources, then get going. There's so much to learn!
Online schools are growing at an astonishing rate.
Online education is such a popular option because it allows you to learn at your own pace while balancing work, family, and social commitments. But with so many institutions now offering online delivery, how do you choose a school and program that fits your goals? And what are the key actions to take if you want to succeed in an online environment?
According to survey data gathered in 2013, the percentage of U.S. higher education students who took at least one online course was at an all-time high—33.5 percent. In fact, that translates to 7.1 million students in 2013, up 6.1 percent from 2012. In addition, 90 percent of academic leaders believe that, within five years, it is likely or very likely that most post-secondary students will be enrolled in at least one online course. *
These numbers mean you will have more schools to choose from and more programs to consider. So, to help you find the distance learning option that best meets your needs, here are four suggestions to keep in mind as you focus your search.
1. Look Into How the Courses Are Structured
Streaming video and virtual classrooms are popular tools. But different online schools may take advantage of different formats. So, when doing your research, look for tutorials or "test drives." Many schools and colleges, through their websites, offer students the chance to preview their online educational experiences.
This might be especially important for particular fields of study. For example, business administration programs may rely heavily on group projects. That means the school should make it easy for students to contact each other via email or live chatting so that they can quickly divide coursework.
Delivery is another important word to remember. Try to find out whether programs are delivered exclusively online or through a combination of mediums like print, video conferencing, or CD-ROM. Ask about the nature of group work, too, since some schools may encourage students to meet in person.
2. Go Over the Technical Requirements
Technology can change quickly, so ensure that you have the hardware and software required for a particular online program. It's also a good idea to make sure that round-the-clock technical support will be just a click or call away.
Compare the specs of your home computer with the technical requirements listed on school websites. That way, you'll know whether you need any upgrades. And remember: many powerful software applications and technologies are free. So a school that uses them will help you stay up-to-date without needing to spend a bundle. OpenOffice for word processing, QuickTime for video, and Adobe Acrobat for document sharing are just a few basic examples.
3. Determine How Accessible the Staff and Resources Are
Find out how easy it is to reach the people who will be evaluating you. Look for instructor email links, toll-free phone numbers, and scheduled office hours. At many schools, professors and instructors answer questions and engage in group discussions or online chat during set hours.
That goes for teaching assistants too. Many professors and instructors enlist assistants to grade assignments and lead discussion groups. You'll want access to those important resources.
And since online schools allow you to study during day or night, it's helpful to be able to take advantage of support resources at times that fit your schedule. You may not be able to speak with an instructor at 3 a.m., but access to online libraries might make completing your assignments easier.
4. Make Sure You Have the Commitment
Sure, you can attend class in your bathrobe from your couch. But are you disciplined enough to thrive? Online schools allow you to learn at your own pace and avoid commutes. But you still have to do your part by ensuring that you have enough time in your week to complete assignments before you enroll.
Also, make sure you can create a good learning environment at home or wherever you'll choose to study. Family and friends need to know that you require alone time with no distractions.
Never Be Afraid to Continue Learning
If you're a self-starter, disciplined, dedicated, and understand the importance of time management, then you'll make a good student. These characteristics are important regardless of whether you pursue an education online or on a campus. So, are you set to begin making your goals come to fruition? Use this moment to search for an online school that offers what you need to move ahead!
* Babson Survey Research Group, Pearson, and the Sloan Consortium, Grade Change: Tracking Online Education in the United States, website accessed January 23, 2014.