Earning an advanced degree can help you transition to a new career or excel in your current field. However, family, work, distance, and other factors can all make it difficult to attend traditional, on-campus courses. If this sounds familiar, online education may be the perfect solution.
More than 3.1 million learners have chosen exclusively online courses to earn bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees.1 Another 3.5 million take some courses online and others in-person.1 If you want to join these ranks, make sure you have the right skills for this unique instructional style with these vital questions.
Many online classes use an asynchronous format, which means students do not have to watch lectures or participate in discussions at the same time. Instead, you access the recorded lecture and write your class discussion posts when your weekly schedule allows you to do so.
While the flexibility of asynchronous learning is unquestionably part of the appeal of online learning, it can also be one of the most challenging aspects for some learners. Many higher education students thrive in the unscheduled environment, but it’s essential to consider whether you need more structure to succeed.
Higher education is a significant investment in your career and your future. It takes time, money, and effort—so you’ll want to make sure that your degree will pay off in whatever way matters to you.
Consider what you hope to accomplish by earning a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree. Will you make more money in your current position, be able to move into a higher position in your field, or even transition to a new career?
While the details will vary depending on the type of degree and your desired career, higher education often pays off. For example, professionals with bachelor’s degrees earn $25,636 more per year than workers with high school diplomas.2 Professionals with master’s degrees earn at least $10,000 more per year than their undergraduate counterparts.2 Of course, the benefits of earning a college degree online extend beyond higher salaries. A degree can provide the satisfaction of accomplishment and help create fulfillment and security in your career. For example, workers with college degrees experience lower unemployment rates than their counterparts.2
Considering how much earning potential you gain from a college degree, you may wonder if you can afford not to earn one. After all, the additional tens of thousands of dollars per year mean that the degree will pay for itself in a few years. However, you should consider how to pay for college in the meantime.
Online learners access many of the same financial aid resources as their on-campus classmates, including:
You can get started by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), for federal aid; visiting the Walden University scholarships page; and exploring private scholarships from other organizations.
You do not need to be a technology genius to earn a college degree online. However, you do need a few basic skills and resources to achieve success. For example, you should have access to a working computer and high-speed internet.
Walden University offers 24/7 technical support for students who run into trouble accessing their coursework. This helps ease the burden on students and makes online learning accessible to more people.
Before you start earning a degree online, be sure you have a place to study that fits your needs. If you like quiet, you may set up a study area in your home or head to the local library. If you’re the type of learner who needs a little background noise, consider a coffee shop or similar venue.
While learning anywhere is part of the appeal of online education, it also means that you need to plan your learning environment. Try to minimize distractions and be sure you have a reliable internet connection.
Finally, you should ask yourself if you are ready to take on the exciting challenge of earning a degree online. If you’re ready to put in the effort and watch your hard work pay off, you can do it.
Walden University is an accredited institution that offers degree programs online at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. Expand your career options and earn your degree using a flexible, convenient learning platform that fits your busy life.
Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.