A few years ago, the idea that you could found a successful career based on an online degree was likely to be scoffed at. Online learning is now becoming more accepted. Indeed, many well-known offline campuses offer online courses that you can take for degree credit. Not too long ago, the Society for Human Resource Management took a poll of professionals, and found that online degrees are viewed more favorably than five years ago, and that a small majority of organizations accept online degrees as well as more traditional degrees when applicants had the same amount of experience.
With this in mind, it means that it might be worth it to boost your credentials using online education. You can enjoy more flexibility to study and complete your degree on your own schedule. Additionally, an online degree means that you aren’t limited by geography. It’s possible to get an MBA from a school like the University of North Carolina without stepping foot on the campus. Utah State University, located in my current state, offers online courses and broadcast courses designed to help students complete their education on their own terms.
As convenient as all of this sounds, though, you need to honestly evaluate whether or not an online degree program is really right for you.
The first hurdle is making sure that the program is properly accredited. There is a reason that a large number of employers are still skeptical of online degrees: There are degree mills and other institutions that offer sub-par educational training. Before you commit to a program, check with The Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs, offered by the Department of Education, to determine whether or not the online program has the right credentials. Have an understanding of the various types of accreditation, and where your potential school stands.
Next, you need to consider the cost of getting a degree. Some state universities offer courses for the same cost per credit as you would pay for in-state tuition. Others charge on the basis of out-of-state tuition. However, other universities charge more for online classes. Compare prices for different programs, and see what is most affordable for the quality of education you are getting.
For many properly accredited online programs, it is possible to qualify for federal student financial aid. You can also apply for scholarships and loans through the program or school. Because of the cost of online schools, many choose to take only one or two classes at a time, paying as they can.
Finally, you have to make sure that you are prepared to perform well on your own in school. You need to have self-discipline and self-motivation to succeed in an online program. Self-starters tend to do well with online learning, since they will accomplish the assignments on time, and take the tests as required. If you have a hard time with self-guided study, you might not thrive in an online program.
You should also consider other ramifications of online universities. In some careers, part of the success comes from the networking you do in classes. Think about your desired career, and whether or not networking will come in handy. For those who just want a degree to help them with a promotion or to rise to the next paygrade, though, an online degree might be just the thing.
Photo from Wikimedia Commons.
The articles are written by personal finance enthusiasts (not certified professionals) based on their personal experience. What works for them may or may not work for you, and you should always consult a financial advisor before making important financial decisions.
In accordance with FTC guidelines, we disclose that we have a financial relationship with companies mentioned in this website. This may include receiving access to free products and services for product and service reviews and giveaways.
Any references to third party products, rates, or websites are subject to change without notice. We do our best to maintain current information, but due to the rapidly changing environment, some information may have changed since it was published. Please do the appropriate research before participating in any third party offers.