Choosing to go back to school is a big decision. One thing you may be considering is going to an online school-–it’s flexible and you can work it into your schedule. Before you pursue a virtual degree, you might want to take a look at what it takes to be successful as an online student.
Are You Ready for Online Learning?
Online learning is not for everyone, but there are some students that have the right work ethic to absolutely thrive in an online environment. Ask yourself the following questions to see if you’re ready:
- Do I have access to the Internet and a computer?
- Am I comfortable with technology and surfing on the web?
- What is my motivation for wanting to learn online?
- Am I setting personal goals that are realistic and attainable?
- Am I willing to use email, chat rooms, and other online communication tools to talk to my instructor or fellow students?
There Is More Than One Type of Online School
There are numerous options for online schools, degree programs, and courses based on your level of education and how much time you want to spend online. The type of online school you select also depends on what your goals are. Do you want to earn a degree or just take a class or two? Are you comfortable taking all your classes online or would you rather attend a college that offers a mixture of courses in a classroom on campus and on the web? Consider the following options as you consider your online school goals:
Online High School
This is an option for both current high school students and older adults who did not finish high school. There are public and private online high schools available.
For current high school students, many school districts throughout the nation are having success offering virtual high schools as an alternative to traditional public school. A recent study of the State of Florida’s virtual school program students were more likely overall to earn a C grade or better if they took an online course as opposed to a face-to-face course.
For older adults, online programs offer a way to earn a high school diploma. These may be students who have test anxiety or need to learn in a more structured environment. The anonymity of going to high school online may also appeal to them.
Online Degree Programs
These programs are offered by community colleges, online colleges, and public universities. Basically, you earn your entire degree online. You may have to attend one or two face-to-face classes (like an orientation class or a final oral exam), but most of these programs are completely online.
You can find every degree level online – associate, bachelor’s, master’s, doctorate, and even one-year vocational certificates. In fact, there are online degree programs in almost every subject area. Here are a few of the most popular ones:
- Business Administration
- Early Childhood Education
- Criminal Justice
Many people are choosing to go to school completely online. Often, these are people who are trying to balance a lot of responsibilities or have a schedule that is not conducive to going to a traditional school.
In fact, according to The Condition of Education Report released by the Department of Education, the percentage of students enrolled in a full online degree program was higher among single parents, individuals who are employed, and older adults. The report also found that women are more likely than men to get an online degree.
Perhaps, you are not ready to commit to taking all your classes online. Most colleges and universities offer some online classes that students can take instead of classes on campus.
You can also take online preparation courses for certain tests like the GED or continuing education courses for getting recertification in certain careers. You can even take online courses just for personal development such as a class that teaches you how to scrapbook.
Some schools offer classes that are considered a hybrid–a blend of online work and traditional face-to-face classroom time. These classes can vary from school to school, but often the lectures are done online and the exams are in class, or there are online assignments that are then discussed in a classroom.
As you can see, there are several online school options for almost every type of student. If you have a really hectic life because you have a job or children, being able to take a class (or go to college) online that works better with your schedule could be a major contributing factor to successfully earning a degree.
If you are still not sure if you are ready to go to an online school, check out our resource on online colleges and online classes as well as explore the featured colleges below.
Natasha Bright is an expert researcher, writer, and editor. During her career of more than ten years, she has managed the content on several education websites. When she is not on the internet, she loves to spend time hiking in the beautiful North Carolina mountains with her family.