For the past decade, the number of students taking online courses has steadily climbed, currently outpacing enrollment in traditional higher education environments. Rather than taking the traditional educational route of attending a four-year university on campus, these pioneering students forged their own paths and found success online. It’s clear that online education is here to stay, providing a valid and attractive option for smart students who want to advance their education but need the convenience and flexibility that remote learning offers.
By the Numbers
A 2012 collection of statistics regarding distance and online learning from EdTech magazine reveals: 65 percent of students have taken at least one online course. 72 percent of online students complete their class versus in-person class completion rates totaling 76 percent. This seems to suggest that with the right program and student commitment, results are similar.
If you are ready to dive into your college education and are considering taking the online studies path — whether you live in a rural area far from a university, don’t want to commute for the convenience, can only find the program you want via online studies, or for any one of several other possible reasons — your educational opportunity is as close as your personal computer and Internet connection.
How to Get Started With An Online Degree?
Once you have decided that an online degree is the best fit for you, your family, and your lifestyle, you might need some help getting started in navigating your way through the process since, for many students, online education is relatively new territory. Besides some basic elements, such as attending classes and technological matters, you might feel comforted when you discover that getting started with an online degree program is not all that different from starting at a traditional university.
An admissions representative can answer any questions you may have about your prospective school and program. Be sure to ask why kind of student support services are available to online learners. Will you have an advisor? Is tutoring available? What resources are available to help jump-start your career?
Keep in mind that it takes the same diligence, care, and time commitment to create your ideal online college environment as it takes for traditional students, but you do have to tailor your approach to ensure your success. Generally, studying online will require more of your self-discipline and a commitment to staying attuned to the college experience without the benefit of regular physical exposure to your educational environment.
Find the Right Online College To Match Your Goals
Have you chosen the degree that appeals to you? If you have a certain degree program in mind, it is important to note that not all universities that offer distance learning courses also offer full programs based on those courses. Research whether or not you will be earning a degree or a certificate — and which one of these options fulfills your academic and career goals.
A few more questions to keep in mind:
- What is the school’s accreditation?
- How long are the terms/semesters?
- What is the tuition?
- What do their students/alumni have to say about their experience?
- If you have a military background, is the school military friendly?
Explore Your Transfer Options
Perhaps you started your course work at a university in the past. You can usually transfer your earned credits from one university to another, but it is important to ask about the new university's specific transfer policies. If you are transferring from an accredited, traditional university setting, you will generally have no problem transferring your earned college credits to continue and complete your education online.
Assess Your Educational Hardware, Software, and Connectivity
Once you have chosen an online college with a curriculum that aligns with your educational and future career goals and you have applied and received acceptance confirmation, it is time to take a look at your home-base operations before classes begin. Assess your essential tools and equipment, including your computer, printer, Internet connectivity, any necessary software for your courses, and backup electrical options in case of power outages. Set up your office area for easy and confident use, so you never have to worry about missing critical deadlines.
Map Out Your Strategy for Success
Like many modern college students, you might work while you are enrolled in school, which presents some logistical challenges you will need to overcome. Even if you do not work or have children, there are other activities in life to keep you busy and easily distract you from your schoolwork. Some of your key strategies might include the following:
- Set concrete study times so you do not fall behind in any courses.
- Schedule all seminars, video conferences, chat/study sessions and phone calls with advisors or professors; set pop-up or email reminders for each event as soon as you know about it.
- Become involved in any way possible that the university facilitates, such as participating in chats, message boards, Skype sessions, open chat hours and telephone calls with professors. If you have a weekend or an evening available and live near the physical campus, attend a school function, such as a sporting event.
Go Ahead, Get Started!
At Johnson & Wales, we are here to help you pursue your academic and career success. We hope you find the perfect path to your future via an online education tailored to your needs and goals.
For more information on how Johnson & Wales University School of Online & Continuing Education can you help you pursue your career goals, contact us at 855-JWU-1881 or [email protected]. You can also fill out the “Request Info” form on this page.