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Complete Guide to Online Degree Programs

Technology has transformed the education sector and distance learning has become the new norm. The National Center for Education Statistics shows that there were almost seven million students enrolled in online courses in 2018, a huge increase from previous years. Online education is becoming a popular alternative to traditional brick-and-mortar courses thanks to their flexibility and affordability.

If you’re considering distance learning, then here is everything you need to know about online degree programs.

What is an online degree and how do they work?

An online degree is an academic degree that is taught online via web-based learning platforms. Students enrolled in online degree programs use a computer and the internet to complete the course requirements without having to attend teaching sessions on campus.

Just like classroom-based courses, most online programs feature lectures, assignments, exams, group work and interactive exercises. Students receive a degree certificate once they have completed the program’s requirements and passed all necessary assignments and exams. Take a look at this article for more guidance on how online degrees work.

Is online education as good as classroom education?

Many people are worried that an online degree won’t be taken as seriously by prospective employers. However, graduates of online degree programs earn exactly the same degree as students who attend a campus-based course. It is unlikely that a prospective employer will even know that you completed your degree via distance learning unless you offer this information during the application or interview.

Some employers may still favor traditional brick-and-mortar degrees, but most treat an online degree the same as they would a campus-based degree. Generally speaking, online degrees are just as respected as traditional programs.

What online degrees are there?

There is a massive variety of online degree programs available across a broad range of subjects. When you choose to study online, you won’t be limited by your geographic location. You will have access to a huge choice of courses being offered by colleges and universities all around the world.

The course you choose will depend on your skills, interests, and career aspirations. For example, you may enroll in an online Nursing degree if you hope to become a registered nurse and find employment in the healthcare sector. Explore the different degree programs available and make sure you pick a course that aligns with your learning preferences and future goals.

What are the benefits of studying for a degree online?

Online degree programs have soared in popularity thanks to the advantages they offer over traditional campus-based courses.

Here are some of the key benefits of studying for an online degree:

  • Flexibility – One of the main reasons why people choose online learning over classroom education is because it offers more flexibility. Online degree programs have flexible schedules that are ideal if you have responsibilities like a job or a family. You can choose a study schedule that fits your existing commitments and learn at your pace.
  • Accessibility – You can access the course content from your online degree 24/7 from any location that is convenient.
  • Lower tuition fees – Distance learning can save you significant amounts of money as online programs usually have lower tuition fees. You will also save money as you won’t need to relocate or travel to and from classes.
  • Networking – You will have the opportunity to network with other students and professionals all around the world and build meaningful connections.

Are there any drawbacks to studying for a degree online?

Online degree programs offer dozens of benefits, but there are some drawbacks that you should be aware of. One of the biggest challenges of earning a degree online is that you will need to take control of your learning schedule and be extremely self-motivated.

According to U.S. News, students enrolled in online programs must have “discipline, commitment, and organization to remain on top of their coursework.” Online courses also have less social interaction, meaning some students struggle with feelings of isolation and a lack of support while studying.

Tips for online learning success

Pick the right course

Enrolling in a degree program is a massive commitment, whether you choose to study online or on-campus. Weigh up your options and make sure that the course you pick is right for you before you invest lots of time and money.

Be proactive with your learning

You have more flexibility and control over your learning when you study for a degree online, but you must also be proactive and self-motivated to remain on top of your coursework. Create a study schedule and stick with it. Track your progress closely and avoid leaving assignments and revision work to the last minute – create a calendar with estimated start dates as well as the deadlines.

Create a dedicated learning space

Having a dedicated learning space will help you focus on your study tasks and avoid distractions. If possible, you should try to create a learning space that is separate from the rest of your living area, for example in a spare room or home office.

Experts at Mountain Heights Academy advise that you should also remove potential distractions from your study space like clutter, televisions, and mobile phones.

Find a support network

Distance learning can be lonely, but there is plenty of support available. Most universities and colleges create online forums and platforms where distance learners can connect with their peers and teachers. Be engaged when you can and don’t be afraid to ask questions if you’re struggling.

Finding a support network and building meaningful relationships will enhance your learning experience and boost your mood and mental wellbeing while you’re studying.

Bottom line

Online degree programs have transformed the education sector. Students can now choose to study for a degree from anywhere and fit learning around their existing commitments. This has made education far more accessible, particularly for people who are in full-time work or have a family.

There are plenty of benefits to online learning, but there are also some challenges. Do your research and decide whether an online degree program is the best option for you. 

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