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Friday, September 2, 2011

What to Consider Before Taking Online Classes

The education environment has changed quite a bit since accredited online colleges have become available to the broader public. Just a few years ago, the predominate way to get an education was through a traditional brick-and-mortar education institution, but now, with online degree programs, we've seen an increase in the diversity of students and programs being offered.

In the past, online colleges received a lot of stigma from the public because they've been seen to be less credible than traditional educations. This seems to be changing according to an article that appeared on MSNBC. The article discussed how, in the last couple years, employers are looking at online degrees with a greater level of seriousness and acceptance. This is largely due to the huge numbers of individuals entering the workforce with a degrees from online colleges.

Now that employers are taking online degrees seriously, more people are giving higher education a serious thought. Even though these programs are very helpful, there are several things you should consider before investing in one of these programs:

Learning Style

You should first consider, before making any decision one way or the other, how you learn best. Learning styles don't always translate well to online courses. If you need a structured environment to get anything done, it's going to be more difficult for you to get the same level of comprehension and retention through an online education. Online learning is relatively independent of time and location. You can access your class any time you want through an online site where you can involve yourself in discussions with the instructor and other students. If you need a time and location to remain motivated, you might want to consider other options.

Face Time Vs. Web Time

This relates to learning styles, but considering the differences between face time and web time is important. As our country is new to online learning techniques, some people have a difficult time making this adjustment. It's important to note that online courses are very user friendly and informative, but some just don't like the lack of human face-to-face learning.

How Well Do You Follow Instructions

The quality of your education through online courses is going to rely heavily on your ability to follow written instructions. Some people require a step-by-step verbal explanation of an assignment. Though you may be able to work with your professor and do this over the phone, in most cases, you'll have to follow an outline and do the assignments that way.

Communication Skills

Not everyone is able to express their ideas effectively through the written word. Some people rely heavily on speaking in a classroom setting to get their idea or message across. When you're taking an online class, you don't have this luxury. You will have to rely heavily on your ability to express any idea through a well written response. If you feel this may be an issue, you might want to brush up on your communication skills so you don't find yourself at a disadvantage.

With all of that said, there's nothing wrong with online classes. These colleges go through the same accreditation process as any traditional university and their standards are just as high. If you want to go back to school but face a difficult schedule, online classes might be the answer for you. Before you enroll in any programs, look online for other tips to help you overcome any obstacles you might face with online classes.

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