Science fiction often becomes reality. It’s only a matter of time. So, imagine if there was an educational method in which you could plug a super computer into your brain and download any course you ever wanted. Voila, instant knowledge! Yes, that’s a premise in the blockbuster film franchise, The Matrix. But, it begs the question, if this type of education did exist, where would its roots begin? Certainly, the genesis could be traced to advanced computing technology and asynchronous learning. Okay, that’s a stretch, but while we’re dreaming about future learning concepts, luckily we can plug into online education available today.
First, know the basics of online learning and determine if they fit your style. Asynchronous learning is education centered on the student’s schedule and learning needs. It stresses flexibility and peer-to-peer and instructor interaction entirely online. Internet, discussion boards, social media, Webinars, chats, blogs, and other networking systems are all valuable learning tools. This type of learning model does require students to have some knowledge of computing and Internet technology. However, students have the freedom to take classes anytime, anywhere.
Look before Jumping
There are many options when choosing an online university, but remember, this is your education, so look for high-quality and affordable options. A good way to determine quality is by looking at student or alumni testimonials. Accreditation is also an important indicator, so be sure to learn what accreditation means.
Many universities tout affordable tuition, but also look for universities that are transparent (meaning no hidden fees) and that provide an undergraduate book grant for degree-seeking undergrads. This helps students save money by not having to purchase books or materials. Also, check out the school’s credit transfer policy. For an example, visit the American Public University System Transfer Credit Evaluation Center (TCE). The more credits transferred in means less overall cost in order to complete a degree.
Talk to the Experts
Okay, so you’re ready to learn more. Go to the university’s homepage. Often you can access prospective-student resources like a virtual tour, online chat, admissions contact information, Federal Student Aid, FAQs, and much more.
Complete the Process
When you’re comfortable and ready to move forward, you can complete your application, take a tour, begin your transfer credit evaluation, register, and start your classes. Click here to check out the helpful Undergraduate Admissions Checklist.
One of the best advantages of online learning is flexibility. No longer are students tied to traditional semester schedules. They can enroll monthly and complete classes in as little as 8 weeks. It may not be an instant download that Sci-Fi movies are made of, but at least quality online education is a step in the right direction. Besides, Neo didn’t have to do a research paper to complete his first course–Jujitsu.
By J. Thompson
Online Learning Tips Staff