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Amanda Woodman
Noodle Expert Member

February 18, 2020

Unsure if an online degree is the right path to take? Keep reading to get some insight from a graduate of an online degree and find out exactly what to expect and what to consider.

Choosing to earn your degree online could be the best decision you make for your education, but it should be noted that online degrees aren't for everyone. It takes a lot of self-motivation, discipline, and excellent time management skills. Nonetheless, it can be just as rewarding as completing a degree on campus, and students don't have to worry about physically making it to lecture rooms on time. In fact, they don't even have to leave their homes unless they choose to go to a library for research or to take a study break for a quick coffee run. (It might also be worth leaving the house to participate in graduation, but you don't need to worry about that for a while.) So, is an online degree right for you? Let's find out.

First off, not all degrees are available online, and some are only partially available online. This is because many degree programs require hands-on learning, like in the form of science labs. Thus, if you are interested in any of the health sciences, you will likely not be able to take all of your courses online. Some degrees that may be available online include English, criminal justice, business, computer science, accounting, and marketing. Different colleges and universities have different offerings for online degrees, so it is suggested that you do some research. Look at your prospective schools and see what types of online degrees they offer. There are many benefits to earning an online degree; one of which is the fact that you don't have to leave your home. Attendance is usually accounted for by keeping track of how many times the student signs in and contributes to class discussions. Sometimes, as long as a student completes all required assignments and exams on time, that counts as that student's attendance. Deadlines are usually midnight of the due date, so you can be sitting on your couch in your pajamas all day and submit your assignment at 11:55 PM. Doesn't that sound enticing when the alternative could be waking up in the wee hours of the morning, showering, getting ready, hastily eating breakfast, dealing with a high-traffic commute in unforeseen weather, finding a parking spot, and barely making it to class on time?

Let's look at another scenario. Maybe you've looked at your school's class schedules for the degree you are pursuing, and the class times don't work well with your hectic schedule. Maybe you have children who need to be dropped off and picked up from school, sports, and other activities which can take up the majority of the day. Maybe you have a job and your shifts would overlap with the classes you need to take. This is where online learning can really help you. You can work it around your other responsibilities, even if that means waiting to open your laptop until the kids are in bed, or getting your assignments done in the morning after your doctor's appointment and before you have to leave to work the night shift. Online degrees give you the freedom to work on your own time and around your own schedule.

Remember when I stated that an online degree isn't for everyone? Here's a little reality check. First of all, your professors and fellow classmates will be nothing more than names and email addresses on your computer. You won't be able to form the same kinds of personal relationships with them that you'd be able to if you met them in person and saw them in the flesh several times a week. When you have a question, you have to wait for your professor to respond to your email or chat message, and online communication can make it challenging to complete a project with a partner or group. Next, online courses demand a great deal of diligence on the student's part. Due to the fact that you aren't present in an actual lecture in a classroom, your online professor will give you enough work to make up for that. In some cases, each week you will be given a lecture to read, other reading assignments, textbook assignments, a mandatory classroom discussion where you required to submit a certain number of threads, and either an exam, project, or paper to write. It can seem overwhelming at first, which is why time management is so important.

Another thing to consider is the fact that your computer/laptop is your most important asset. Without it, you have no class presence. The possibility of running into technological issues can inhibit your success. Loss of power, loss of internet, broken or lost laptops, and other technological difficulties can put a sudden halt to your hard work and cause you to fall behind. Online students must have a reliable computer with necessary software, along with backup plans in place in case a problem presents itself. It is wise to know where your nearest public library is located. Lastly, is the lack of "campus life." Online students don't get the full college experience they grew up hearing about. You won't have a dorm room, nor will you partake in the college's extracurricular activities and other aspects of campus life. It is vital that you ask yourself, would you feel like you missed out on something?

Final Thoughts

Whether or not an online degree is right for you depends on your personal situation and schedule. Some students are just getting out of high school, hold a part-time, flexible job, and crave the whole college campus experience, including moving away from home and making new friends. Then there are others who maybe took a different direction and took some time off after high school and now have a full-time job or families of their own, so they don't have the freedom to immerse themselves in campus life. It all depends. So, if the degree you are pursuing is available online, and you have interest in trying it out, I highly recommend it.