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Do Some Research Before Enrolling in an Online Program

Online degree and certificate programs have become increasingly popular in the last 10 years. They're convenient, inexpensive and allow you to gain an additional notch on your belt while working elsewhere. Despite all the perceived flexibility of such programs, this weekend's New York Times offered some good advice for anyone considering signing on: before you enroll you should understand the commitment that will be involved. Here's more:

  • How long will it take to get a degree? Before you make the leap, be prepared to spend at least 10 to 20 hours a week, for at least one or two years, on your online learning — and possibly more, depending on the degree.
  • How much will it cost? The price varies widely, but in many cases tuition fees are comparable to those at brick-and-mortar schools — minus the added cost of things like room and board.
  • How will it compare to college outside the virtual world? Professionals who opt for online degrees will almost certainly miss out on many of the impromptu lunches, barroom debates and other serendipitous learning experiences that occur on a college campus. You may also be less likely to make lasting personal and professional connections with your online classmates.

Have you ever taken (or considered taking) a class or certificate program online?

Join The Conversation
bellaressa bellaressa 9 years
I am really thinking on taking online classes, my company owns four colleges and if I go to one of their schools all I have to pay for is books and fees, if I go outside to other school they will pay 80%. I am thinking of getting another Masters or my PhD so that I can also teach in my spare time- I am teaching/voluteering with students in reading and helping them achieve and pass their GED'-in my spare time.
JaimeLeah526 JaimeLeah526 9 years
I know a lot of people who are going to online schools for the first 3 years and then transferring to an actual campus and getting their degree from there. I've taken classes online and I love them. You can do them whenever you want and don't have to worry about other people. There is no reason that you wouldn't do the work because it's not any different than regular classes if you're attending college.
linb linb 9 years
I received my bachelors degree online. I went to a local college for the first two years because I could go for free, so I took that opportunity to get all of the core classes out of the way. The degree that I wanted was not offered at my local school, so I chose the online route for the cost and convenience. I was very happy with the experience, but I don't think online school is for everyone. I tried to convince my brother to look into it, but he knows that if it is up to him to get on a computer and do the work at his own convenience, it would never happen. He's more likely to do the work and to go to class if it doesn't seem so anonymous.
ladypenguin ladypenguin 9 years
I'm planning to start my master's soon, through an online program. I looked at several options, both online and on campus before deciding which program was best for me. What I liked best about the online program I chose was that 1) the curriculum was the same for the online degree as the on campus degree at this school, 2) my degree won't distinguish me from students who complete the program on campus (i.e. won't say "online" anywhere) and 3) the program includes a week long on campus component during the summer, so I'll have the opportunity to meet my classmates in person. Personally, I'm more comfortable with the idea of an online program if it comes from a brick and mortar university. The school I chose also has been doing online education for a while, and the demos and other information they provided made me feel confident about the program.
j2e1n9 j2e1n9 9 years
Beware! Also make sure it is regionally accredited for the right location(s) that you plan on using your degree towards later on in life! I have heard of horror stories where people have spent two years or more getting a degree, only to find out when they wanted to get their bachelor or master's degree that the school they were using wasnt accredited for the school they wanted to attend next. Beware of programs that are only accredited nationally, this sounds like it is better than regional, but regional or smaller is better because it has passed extra qualifications past the national level. National is only the bare minimum.
RosaDilia RosaDilia 9 years
I read this article this weekend. My boss has been encouraging me to go back to school and take advantage of on-line courses as well as the tuition reimbursement program that my job offers. I haven't decided what to do yet.
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