Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Adult Learners: Is Online Education Right for You?


By guest writer Angelita Williams

I've been an advocate for distance education ever since I earned my master's degree in marketing online a few short years ago. The flexibility it provided allowed me to keep my fulltime job and "attend" school simultaneously. I am forever thankful for the plethora of opportunities my online degree gave to me.

However I will say this: some of the promotional ads for online schooling are terribly misleading. No matter how easy the pamphlets or websites say it is to "juggle-it-all" (job, family, school) it isn't easy— at all. Actually, it's really hard. In fact one night as I fought my sleep while trying to study I found myself questioning whether I could actually complete the entire program until the end or not. But all my hard work and determination paid off.

All I have to say is that online programs (especially advanced degree programs) are not for the weak or the co-dependent—you need to be able to squeeze in your studies on your own schedule every day to stay on task. That said, online education can be a real life saver for those that don't have time to attend a traditional brick-and-mortar institution to advance their career. But not any online school will do. Make sure to follow some of my insider-tips below when choosing a school.

Look for Online Programs, Not Exclusively Online Schools

When most students think about online education they automatically think of online schools like DeVry University and Phoenix University. While these schools do in fact offer quality programs, some employers are a little skeptical to hire graduates from these national chain online schools because they're afraid the curriculum isn't up to par or worse—the degree is completely fake.

During the early budding beginnings of online education, there was in fact an array of fraudulent "diploma-mill" schools that would leave students with useless degrees. While a few are still out there, most institutions offer high quality/credible programs (more on this later). Of course, biased employers
might still think otherwise. That said, if you are nervous how you online degree will be received, it would probably be in your best interest to enroll in an online program offered through a brick-and-mortar institution. There are plenty of prestigious city and state universities that offer online degrees.

Beware of Hybrid Programs

Just because a program is offered online doesn't mean that it's exclusively online—some courses actually require students to come to a traditional classroom at least once a week or attend a facility to have a proctored exam, lab, or some sit on a special lecture. If you don't think you'll have any extra
time to spare to attend campus or take an internship or a fellowship then read the fine print. Make sure it's not a hybrid program (part online and part in-classroom) before you sign up.

Check Accreditation

Lastly and certainly most importantly you want to make sure that the online school or program you're considering enrolling in is legitimate. The easiest way to know is to check for the accreditation which should be located on the school's website. But you need to make sure that you cross-reference with
other sources too: a website may falsely state information. There are several different resources that can help you prove the school's information is correct, such as College Navigator, The U.S. Department of Education and U.S. News Education.

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Angelita Williams is a freelance blogger who specializes in education-related content. She’s familiar with educational practices for every age and lifestyle, from college courses to homeschooling to traditional learning. You can contact Angelita anytime at angelita.williams7@gmail.com.

10 comments:

  1. An adult educator and training specialist, I completed a Master of Education majoring in Educational Technology completely online with the University of Southern Queensland. It made sense to do a qualification about online learning online and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

    Online learning, or indeed external learning, doesn't suit everyone, but it's excellent for people who are disciplined and can't rush off to a university to attend classes.

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    1. I might add that the University of Southern Queensland is one of Australia's most prestigious external study universities with over 40 years experience. See http://usq.edu.au if interested.

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  2. Anonymous10:20 AM

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  3. Anonymous12:11 PM

    thanks for sharing.

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  4. For me online degrees are the most suitable I can imagine on finishing a course considering our geographical location as well the financial situation we are into. I am currently enjoying a computer science degree online and I can say, this is the best decision I made my entire life.

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  5. Computer science is a discipline that lends itself well to online delivery and learning. But there is a difference between those educational institutions that produce instructional media for download online and those who deliver truly online instruction.

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  6. I think that it would be great if employers would also warm up to he fact that online courses are rigorous and have something to offer to candidates.

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    1. Employers are more interested in training than development and few training courses are online. However, as training manager some years ago I did put a large number of employees through an online purchasing course which was excellent.

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