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The Strategic Thinking Behind Choosing an Online Degree Program

Dr. Cheryl Lentz, of The Lentz Leadership Institute, is the CEO and managing editor, known as The Academic Entrepreneur, as well as a Walden University faculty member. An experienced educational mentor, Dr. Lentz recently spoke about the connection between academia and the business world. “It’s not that people plan to fail in life, they simply fail to plan. Part of what we’re trying to offer is that online education becomes part of that preparedness. Even though you may change your goals along the way, you still need to have a general direction.”

As a starting point, Dr. Lentz encourages students to have a clear set of life goals to properly align their online learning strategy with their professional goals. To help, Dr. Lentz uses an outcome-based discovery exercise in which students are asked to think about what they would like their lifetime achievement awards to say about them. Knowing what they wish to accomplish makes it easier to uncover the steps needed to get there.

The Strategic Thinking Behind Choosing an Online Degree Program

“There is a quote from Alice in Wonderland,” offered Dr. Lentz, “which says 'If you don’t know where you’re going, any path will do.’ However, if you can see yourself and see your passion, you can put together a plan and begin moving forward. After all, every great journey begins with a first step.”

Dr. Lentz believes that there is a nexus in the journey of exploration which includes education, such as online graduate degree programs; practical training in business; and entrepreneurial experience. By combining all of three of elements, it is easier to realize your goals.

Another question that should be answered as you construct your online education path is “What do you want your degree to do for your career?” While it’s important to keep in mind that you must have realistic expectations in education and business, this question helps ensure that the online college and online degree program you select are also in line with your career aspirations.

Internships, informational interviews, and volunteering are also very eye-opening discovery techniques. “Speak with people who you find fascinating and ask them for their stories. Ask how they started their path, what online degrees they earned, and what they would do differently.” said Dr. Lentz. “Internships are also a fantastic choice. Most of the time they are unpaid, but they are also low commitment. Sometimes it’s good to know when a particular career path is not for you. An internship can provide that clarity.”

Dr. Lentz is a big believer in using volunteer work as part of the discovery process, too. “We don’t always get what we want in life until we give of ourselves. Some people do nothing because they can’t do it all. Instead, just try to change one life, one heart, one mind, because that is how to start to change the world.” Championing a mission of social change, Walden University believes in the alignment of one’s career path and passion. If you’re ready to change your future—and perhaps even change the world—Walden offers more than 80 degree programs to help make your online education journey a success.

When it comes to the pursuit of higher education, the work begins before you even enter the classroom. By taking the time to go through the discovery process and map out an educational plan, you’ll be on a path that can take you anywhere you want to go.

Dr. Cheryl Lentz, DM, MSIR, is a Walden University DBAcontributing faculty member who has taught at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. She is the founder of The Lentz Leadership Institute and has served as the publisher/editor and contributing author of the award-winning, peer-reviewed series The Refractive Thinker®.