How to Choose the Right Online Bachelor’s Degree Program
Deciding to pursue your bachelor’s degree online is a big step toward your career development. Online education is no longer a buzzword. Colleges and universities all across the country have been putting more and more high-quality resources and attention into their online programs. Especially since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, every institution has been challenged and required to provide an online education that is of the same quality as their traditional on-campus courses.
Thinking about enrolling online? You’re in good company; over 7 million people in America are getting an exclusively online education. Read on to get a better idea of how to choose the online bachelor’s program that works best for you.
The Benefits of an Online Bachelor’s Degree Program
Pursuing a bachelor’s degree online has numerous benefits. First, it’s typically a lot more affordable than a physical on-campus program, as you won’t have to consider college housing and meal plans, nor will you need to do a daily commute for class. What’s more, most books used in online learning are digital and therefore cheaper than their print versions.
One of the greatest advantages to enrolling in an online program is the flexibility it affords you. Many universities offer some kind of asynchronous learning options, which post recorded lectures for you to watch at your convenience. This allows you to continue to take care of your work or family responsibilities and attend class only when you are available. You can even watch recorded lectures multiple times to better grasp the material. Even if your courses need to be attended live, you can save a lot of time and stress by eliminating any kind of commute to a physical location.
Decide Your Field of Study
The first step in your search is to settle on the degree program you intend to pursue. Your career goals should inform your choice, and you can consult a career guidance professional to help you decide which fields would be relevant. Whereas some people are quite firm in what their interests are, it’s also common and encouraged to ask a more experienced person to steer you in the right direction.
Once you have decided on the field you want to pursue, it’s time to look for the schools that offer it—and which ones are legitimate. Do your research to find out whether each school you’re considering has proper accreditation from the relevant government and professional bodies. The accreditation status of the school you attend will determine whether potential employers will recognize your degree. Accreditation of the school is also relevant when seeking financial aid.
Look for Reputation and Stability
Getting a degree from a reputable and recognizable institution has its advantages when trying to impress employers. That doesn’t mean you need to attend an expensive Ivy League school. Instead, consider how well an institution is known for offering the bachelor’s degree you intend to pursue: How long has the university been offering the program? How many students have graduated? What are their career placement outcomes? Instead of taking a chance on a newly introduced program, you are better advised to attend a school with a proven track record of offering the course online.
Consider the Costs
The cost of an online bachelor’s degree is obviously a major determinant for which institution you end up choosing. Conduct some research to gauge the average cost of an online degree in your field and compare it with the amount that you are capable of spending. Remember: higher costs do not always correlate with a higher quality of learning. Your assessment of quality ought to be based on firsthand reviews of people who’ve attended the university and the availability of resources that you want out of a school.
Look for Proficient Technology
It’s important to find out the kind of technology that a university has invested in to deliver quality online education. Technology should enable easy interaction amongst learners and with the course instructors. Students should be able to take their quizzes and submit assignments within the learning portal as opposed to using email. Importantly, technology should be able to protect the integrity of the course through proctored exams and tools that check for plagiarism. If a university has invested in these and more tools, it’s a sign of its commitment to offering high-quality education.
Judge Curriculum Quality
The best online degree programs have well-thought-out tools to give students an immersive experience to compensate for the lack of physical interactions. For instance, some have simulation labs in which students can test their knowledge and skills in a dynamic learning environment that mirrors real life. It is also encouraging to see a school that integrates culminating capstone projects that test students’ comprehensive knowledge of their field. Education can also be enriched through guest speakers and webinars that bring dynamic conversations into the curriculum.
Check for Available Student Services
Traditional students who attend school on campus have offices at which they can get various forms of support to help them succeed. Similarly, online degree programs should provide learners with support services to help them use the learning resources effectively. These services can range from technical support to career development. The quality of the student services should be evident when doing your research.
Bettsy McKlaine, Director of Degree Completion and Graduate Admissions at Neumann University, PA, explains the importance of on-campus support:
Although you won’t physically be on campus, it is important to be engaged and feel connected with your peers and professors. Having a support system both inside and outside of the virtual classroom can play a major role in your success. When you are able to reach out to a classmate or have faculty who are easily accessible for questions or even to brainstorm ideas, you will feel more comfortable and confident in your ability to produce good quality work. Engagement and accessibility to peers and professors are important questions to ask when searching for an online bachelor’s degree program.
Preparing to Take an Online Course
As you’ve seen, the process of choosing an online course ought to be an objective methodical process. The choice of institution highly impacts your chances of graduating successfully. However, there are measures you can take to make the best out of the experience.
- Participate as if it were a physical class. Take part in discussions and projects with utmost dedication. Make your online presence felt.
- Hold yourself accountable for watching lectures, studying learning materials, and submitting assignments.
- Set up a study area in your house.
- Create a regular study schedule and commit to it.
For more information on how to prepare to go back to college and ignite your career, visit our websites for informative articles and links to schools all over America.