School isn’t for everyone, but how do you know if it’s not the place for you now? It may have been 4 years since you left high school, and for others as much as 20 or 30, but it’s never too late to re-consider your education options. For some of us that route could mean a community college to finish up a degree, but not all of us have that kind of time. An online education is becoming steadfastly a greater option for those people that had life come into play and had to put off their education.
If you’re considering going back to school, especially one online, you’ll need to ask yourself some questions, just to make sure you’re ready:
- Are you comfortable using technology?
Since the online education format is solely online, you will be reliant on your internet connection and laptop/desktop. You can’t use your car breaking down, or dog eating your homework as an excuse for missing assignments. Check out the school’s technology requirements first.
- Can you manage your time efficiently?
Since the format is virtual, you won’t have a professor coming up to your desk in class asking why you’ve been missing so many assignments. Online learning is at your own pace, but the only person reminding you to check assignments and discussion board posts will be yourself. You’ll need to develop some great time management skills quick in order to stay on top.
- Are you OK with virtual interaction vs face-to-face?
This is a big question for many looking at online schools. And even though you don’t have the daily interaction with peers in the physical sense, there is always interaction through social mediums like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and also inside the classroom. Online learning can, for some, be more productive and beneficial in terms of absorbing information because there isn’t the distraction of being in a physical classroom. It’s just about the relay of information from one source, your professor and peers, to another, you.
- Is the school you’re interested in regionally or nationally accredited, or both?
Accreditation is an important factor in deciding on investing in higher education. While there are many different types of accrediting agencies, the important thing to know is that the accrediting agency is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (www.chea.org) — which is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
- Is education for you? What are your doubts about returning to school?
This is a good place to stop and write down your concerns. For many who have a gap in time between now, and their last degree seeking experience it can be intimidating. And for many, a brick and mortar school isn’t an option because of inconvenience; like having a job, children, or expense. Online learning gives you the option to return to school, and receive a great education, with a lot more flexibility from the more traditional format.
By J. Mason