Everything you need to know about Online College Degrees

Getting a college degree online is a convenient and affordable option for many students. Online college and university programs are a relatively new phenomenon and have made a big difference in the lives of many people, becoming increasingly popular because they offer a more accessible and more flexible approach to earning a degree.

Most of the online college and university programs were created for the sole purpose of opening up the world of higher education to more people. However, some online programs are actually extensions of so-called brick and mortar college and universities. Many schools around the world are wising up to the fact that having an online degree program will provide the opportunity for more students to earn degrees.

Earning a degree online takes patience and a great deal of self-discipline. Online college and university courses are usually offered in a go at your own pace structure, meaning that focused individuals work their way through the coursework much more quickly than others. Determined college and university students can earn degrees online faster than they can at a local campus, but there is a lot of self-motivation and self-regulation involved.

Online students must be able to tune out distractions and focus on schoolwork. They must also have regular access to a computer with internet capability and have the discipline to read through college and university lectures rather than watching TV or going out.

Many different types of people benefit from online degree programs. Online college and university programs are especially popular with working professionals who wish to advance their careers but cannot take time off to go to school. These students can study in the evenings or on weekends, fitting in college and university coursework whenever it is most convenient for them. This flexibility is providing a lot of people with career opportunities that they’ve never had before.

Online degrees are also a great option for students who cannot afford college tuition. That’s because most online universities offer payment plans that allow students to pay per course, working towards their degrees as they can afford it.

Numerous parents of young children are enrolling in online college and university programs and earning degrees while taking care of the kids. That way, they’re prepared to enter the workforce once their children are old enough to go to school. Frequent travelers and those who cannot commit to a four year university program are enjoying the fact that they can study for their online degree no matter where in the world they are located.

Here are some do’s and don’ts for how to get your bachelor degree online. First, remember that online learning isn’t necessarily an all or nothing proposition. You can enroll in college and university programs while simultaneously pursuing some courses vis-…-vis an online education. Moreover, you can stagger your college and university schedule to coincide with your online learning needs — most admissions advisors can spell out the ground rules for you.

There are literally dozens of top-tier online bachelor degree programs out there. Many of these are linked to traditional residential colleges and universities. Others service students exclusively online. Some bachelors programs prep students for transfer to four-year colleges and universities. Others focus narrowly on one or two disciplines or fields.

Look out for so-called diploma mills. These are online institutions that aren’t blessed by the Counsel in Higher Education Accreditation (also known as CHEA). If an online school does not boast an affiliation with CHEA, look elsewhere. Other warning signs include: the school allows you to purchase a diploma outright without paying for courses individually; the school doesn’t ask for high school recommendations, college board scores, or GPA; the school is situated remotely overseas.

In addition, you can check with your local Better Business Bureau to see whether potential online bachelor degree programs have good marks with independent consumer organizations. If complaints against a so-called accredited bachelors program have been filed with the BBB, investigate seriously. Not only can applying for and receiving a bogus online bachelor’s degree drain money needlessly from your pocketbook, but it can also potentially cause career hurdles down the line.

In some cases, you may be able to leverage your career, military, or alternative educational experience to acquire an accredited bachelor’s degree online quickly. You simply send in your resume and pass a battery of tests in your field. That said, past experience in all likelihood won’t lead you to a full bachelor’s degree — in the best case scenario, you might be able to ?trade? your experience for a few dozen credits towards graduation.

Talk to alumni, guidance counselors, and current students to understand the time frames, financial aid requirements, and accreditations associated with your online program. Most importantly, once you’ve matriculated, develop a schedule to complete all of your in-class and out-of-class assignments to complement your general life schedule.

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