You’ve decided it’s time to earn that college degree. Because you have adult responsibilities — working full-time, raising a family — an online program seems like the way to go. Here are some questions to ask yourself as you prepare to study online.
Is this a strong online program?
College is an investment, so make sure you’ll be getting your money’s worth. It’s important to know that all online degrees are not created equal. Look for accreditation – it’s a sign of quality academic programs. Public colleges and universities have to meet strict educational standards through a recognized regional accrediting agency. UNCG is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).
Is it a good fit for me?
Make sure the online program that you are considering will fit your lifestyle. Most programs require that you finish within a certain amount of time. Some may require you to come to campus periodically. Be sure that you understand any requirements up front. If this will be your first online course, UNCG’s Ready to Learn site offers details on what to expect. You can even take a free assessment to find out how prepared you are.
Can I afford it?
Because you’ll be studying online, it’s tempting to look at schools all over the country – but they may not represent the best value. Compare tuition prices at state universities, private colleges, and for-profit schools. Chances are, tuition costs are significantly lower at public universities in your own state. These programs are likely to be the most affordable quality education you can find.
What about financial aid?
Good news – online students are eligible for financial aid! Check with the school’s Financial Aid office and be sure to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form by the school’s deadline.
Do I need transcripts from previous schools?
Yes. If you have attended other colleges, you’ll need to get official copies of those transcripts. Make sure you are in good standing with these schools. That means no outstanding fees, fines, or expulsions.
What about technical requirements?
You don’t have to be an IT expert to succeed in an online course. Programs should post the tech requirements you have to meet for each course. This may mean updating or downloading software so you can watch videos, listen to audio, etc. If you’re concerned about the tech side of things, UNCG’s Ready to Learn site can help. There’s a section dedicated to technology; read it to understand what you’ll need and learn more.
How will I find the time?
Online courses offer you a great deal of flexibility, but finding time to learn is up to you. The good news is, you can study whenever you want: late at night, early in the morning, on your lunch hour, or any other time you can find. For every hour you spend reading the course content online, plan to spend three hours studying and doing assignments. Let your family know about your plans and seek their support. They’ll have to adjust to your new responsibilities, so explain why you’ve chosen this path and how much it will benefit the family.
Welcome to the world of online learning. Once you find the online program that’s a good fit for your goals and lifestyle, you’ll have an exciting opportunity to get the degree you’ve always wanted. Use these tips to make the most of it.