So you've decided to improve your career prospects by earning a college degree. And because you can't afford to leave your current job to go to back to school, you've decided to earn your degree online. These are all excellent decisions that show you're ambitious, practical, responsible and far thinking.
But before you even attend your first online class, there are five things you need to do to make sure your online education experience is as successful and rewarding as you want it to be. They are:
1. Get your schedule and budget your weekly hours accordingly. Earning a degree online is going to seriously cut into what used to be your "free time," so make sure to schedule sufficient hours for your classes, and for yourself. Get your class schedule, determine when you need to attend your online lectures, participate in online study groups, take tests, etc., and then block these hours out on a weekly calendar. Make sure you also leave time for family, friends and fun. Understand that going to an online college or university requires great personal discipline and time management. Also understand it's a limited-time commitment that can yield huge dividends when you're done.
2. Get a "buy in" from your family and employer. If you have a family, make sure they understand your needs and are willing to sacrifice and support you as needed. Likewise, if you have a job, your employer/manager needs to know you are working to improve yourself and need to stick to a strict after-hours schedule to do so. The others in your life are more likely to "buy into" your plans if you explain to them how earning your associate or bachelor's degree is likely to ultimately benefit them.
3. Prepare a workspace. You will need a designated study area where you will attend your online classes, read class material, participate in online study groups, etc. Ideally, this should be a private area of your home where you can work for a few hours at a time, uninterrupted. If all you have available is a common area like a living room or kitchen table, make sure to schedule your study sessions during times when you won't interfere with other household activities.
4. Make sure your tech is up to specs. You need the right hardware to have a successful online experience. Ask your school for your minimum computer requirements, if you don't have them already. It's usually best to have a computer and Internet connection that significantly exceeds these baseline requirements.
5. Obtain and review your course materials in advance. Most online courses require students to purchase either hardcopy or electronic versions of textbooks and other study materials. Make sure you do this before your classes begin. Take time to review your materials ahead of time so you get a sense of where the course is headed and the amount of work you'll be asked to perform. As any magician will tell you, it's all about preparation.
Complete these five tasks and you'll have the foundation you need to begin your classes with a sense of confidence and excitement, which is as it should be. Education is a wonderful thing. Be thankful we live in an era you can earn an associate, bachelor's or even a master's degree without ever having to leave home!
Earn a Degree Online Through Everest University Online
If you're interested in the online learning experience, consider Everest University Online, a division of Everest University. Everest University Online offers a variety of associate, bachelor's and master's degree programs in popular fields such as:
- Computer Information Science
- Criminal Investigations
- Criminal Justice
- Homeland Security
Being online, there are no set schedules. You choose where and when you attend classes. You can go to school and earn a degree even while working at a nine-to-five job or taking care of a family. And, yes, classes encourage online study groups and social networks.
Everest University is accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS).
Financial aid is available for those who qualify.