Whether you are looking to enhance your career options or even explore new career fields, a bachelor’s degree can be an important step for you. Online learning has expanded degree options over recent years and has become an attractive alternative to an on-campus education for many students. In fact, there are many benefits that students of online bachelor’s degree programs enjoy, including lower costs, more flexibility, and the ability to keep your job and work on your education at the same time.
When choosing a program, there are many factors you should consider. Below are some of the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) that prospective students have about online bachelor’s degree programs.
Is an Online Bachelor’s Degree Program Right for Me?
Online learning can be a good fit if you need the flexibility to attend classes on your own schedule while juggling other responsibilities such as work or family.
Even though an online program can be more convenient, that does not necessarily mean it is easier than going to college on-campus. As colleges and universities have expanded online learning options for students, most schools have made an effort to maintain the academic rigor and meet the same standards of on-campus courses.
Before registering for an online program, you need to consider your learning style. You will need to have good time management skills and be able to stay on top of the coursework in order to be successful as an online student. You will not be held accountable by professors in the same way as with an on-campus classroom environment. For example, you may not be told by a professor when an assignment is due, but will instead need to be more responsible to stay on task and meet all due dates for assignments on your own. If this is not your current learning style or even one you can adapt to, then you may be more suited for an on-campus program.
How Long Will It Take for Me to Complete my Online Bachelor’s Degree Program?
Most online bachelor’s degree programs take students three to four years or more to complete. How long it will take you will depend on the types of online classes you are enrolled in as well as your work ethic. For example, some programs will allow you to earn your degree in less time if you are willing and able to take multiple classes at a time.
Online students should expect to spend approximately three hours per week per credit hour on average to watch lectures and complete coursework. This will vary based on the field of study, school, and program, but the time spent engaged with each course is often comparable to on-campus courses.
How Does an Online Class in a Bachelor’s Degree Program Work?
There are several different types of online learning and not all colleges and universities offer the same format. The following are four different formats for online learning:
- Asynchronous learning: Online students review course materials and lectures on their own time, but complete assignments, tests, and projects according to set course deadlines in a regular semester calendar.
- Synchronous learning: Students and the professor connect online at a set date and time using live web conferencing technology.
- Hybrid: While many online programs are offered 100% online, other degree programs provide a “hybrid” option, integrating online learning with on-campus requirements.
- Independent study: Completion of coursework is self-paced and you typically have a year or more to complete the course online.
It is important to research the format of an online degree program prior to application and enrollment. This will allow you to see if the format you are pursuing is the right fit.
Is an Online Bachelor’s Degree Program Affordable?
As you prepare to enroll in an online degree program, it is important to weigh tuition costs. Depending on the college or university, tuition may be different for in-state students compared to those out-of-state.
Many schools have available scholarships and financial aid. In addition to federal and private student loans, some employers offer tuition assistance. You will need to research and understand your options in order to determine how to save on the costs associated with your college education.
In addition to tuition costs, there will be other expenses that you need to budget for, including a computer and software programs, home internet service, and textbooks.
What is Accreditation and Why Does it Matter?
Accreditation is a system used in the United States to evaluate colleges and universities to ensure you are receiving a quality education that meets standards for faculty, curriculum, and support resources. Accreditation assures that your school is a credible institution that is qualified to grant a degree in your field of study.
Universities and colleges must pass a rigorous review by faculty and other administration officials at other schools. This ensures that you are receiving the level of higher learning that is required to help you get a job in your field of study after graduation.
What Other Factors Should I Consider When Exploring Online Degrees?
To help you find the right school and degree program, here are some factors you should consider and research before you enroll in an online bachelor’s degree program.
- Student engagement factors (class size, retention rates)
- Faculty credentials and training (program follows best practices for online learning)
- Student services and technology (mobile technology, support, and advising to help you reach your goals, job placement assistance, etc.)
- Peer reputation (among academic officials, and university educators)
You will want to be sure to take the time to research your online learning options by comparing online programs and degrees and reviewing career opportunities that an online bachelor’s degree program will make available to you.