Tips For Choosing an Online Course of Study
February 12, 2019
February 12, 2019
The convenience and popularity of getting a college degree online has lead to the proliferation of online programs. For some, attending an online program is their only option because they live too far away from a brick-and-mortar school or have a schedule that varies widely and does not permit them to attend class at the same time every week.
You can get a degree online in almost any course of study. The most popular areas are business, criminology or criminal justice, computer science, and social sciences such as psychology and sociology. If you have decided to get a college degree online, but you have not selected your major or a specific program, there is a lot to consider.
The first thing you want to do is find your strengths and weaknesses. There are a number of free career assessment tools online. Take the time to utilize a couple of the tools, they usually have between 10-30 questions, which should not take you more than fifteen minutes each. For a more extensive and validated assessment, you can take the Jackson Vocational Interest Survey for about $ 20.00. This survey was developed by Douglas Jackson, PhD approximately 40 years ago.
Once you have an idea where your strengths are, you can identify some fields of study that interest you and allow you to capitalize on your abilities. Identify the top five areas of study and research them. You want to know what it is like to work in that field. You can use the internet, school guidance counselor, friends, family, and if necessary the telephone. For example if you are interested in the nursing field, but you do not know anyone who is a nurse and none of your friends or family know someone in the nursing field, you can call up a doctor's office and explain that you are interested in nursing and would like know if anyone would be willing to speak to you about nursing. Of course, you do not want to call a hospital or emergency clinic because those people are busy and may be trying to save someone's life, however the office that your mom goes to might be willing to direct you to a nurse that is willing to answer some questions.
In addition to learning about working in a field, you want to know what the outlook is for that field. A great resource for that type of information is US Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Handbook. It is available online here. http://www.bls.gov/oco/ . You can find salary information in the Occupational Handbook also, which is the next thing you want to find out. With the salary information you can do a cost versus benefit analysis. If you are currently working and you earn $ 50,000 per year, but you want to be a freelance writer so you are interested in a degree in creative writing, you may decide that the education costs too much to justify the negligible pay difference.
Utilizing the information you have gathered, you should be able to narrow your fields of interest to two or three. If you find that you are particularly excited about one field and only that field, the next step is the same for you as it is for people who are still trying to identify the best program for them.
You are now ready to identify specific schools and programs to compare. Using the internet, you will search for schools that have online programs in the fields you are interested in. Find out what current and former students are saying about the program. If possible, find out what recruiters and human resource managers think about graduations from the program. You will find that the reputation and academic rigor varies from program to program. The fact that a program is online does not mean that it does not provide a quality education that is respected in the field, which is what you want.
When you have identified a quality program that is respected in the industry, in a field that you have strong abilities, that will lead to a career you find rewarding and satisfying, you have found the best course of study for you.