By Gladys Mae
Gladys is the Associate Director of Admissions & Student Services with over 10 years of experience at the International Career Institute.
When making the decision to enroll in a distance education program, it’s important that you find the program that fits your specific needs. No two programs are alike, so evaluate each based on the criteria you’re looking for.
Additionally, ask these questions before moving forward:
If you’re working full-time, you might be surprised how much work you have to do for even one distance learning course. Do you have time to commit? If not, you may set yourself up for failure. On the other hand, if you can carve out time, maybe in the evening after work, to dedicate to furthering your education, now might be the right time to start that program.
Many students don’t realize the importance of attending an accredited distance education program; in fact, it’s one of the most important criteria you should consider. Accreditation refers to the fact that the school has been evaluated and has proven to provide academics of a certain caliber. Many higher education institutions will not honor degrees from schools that aren’t accredited, so this is something that can have serious impact on you down the road.
Do you need to log onto the classroom at a specific time? Is the coursework available at your convenience? When is homework due? If you’re new to the world of distance education, you’ll want to understand the routine of a given program so you know what is expected of you as a student.
Some programs charge you one fee for tuition, and then additional fees for books and supplies. Know what you’ll be responsible for paying up front.
While many online education programs are affordable in cost, they may still be beyond your bank account. You may be able to take out a student loan to help defray those costs, so look into your eligibility early.
Ideally, you want to be taught by professionals with a great deal of actual experience in their field of study. Look into the bios of all professors to understand what they bring to the table.
Given that you’re working full-time, you want an understanding of how long you will need to study before you can get your certificate or diploma. It won’t happen overnight, surely, so you’ll need the patience to stick with it.
Likely, the purpose of you going back to school is so that you can get a promotion or a raise. It can be helpful to talk to someone in the program you’re considering to understand what kind of successes students typically see in their professional lives once they’ve graduated.
Because you won’t be on a college campus with the opportunity to mix and mingle with other students, it can be helpful to have online forums, advisors, and other resources to help you get the most out of your distance education program.
Some online programs begin when you’re ready; others have set semesters like physical colleges. Knowing a program’s schedule can help you plan around it.
Investing in a distance education program is investing in yourself. Take the time to make the right decision about which program you enroll in so that you can reap the benefits.