If you’re ready to move forward with your education to earn your degree, you know that you have more options today than ever before. You can attend classes at a traditional, brick-and-mortar college. Or, you can earn your degree online at your own pace, as it fits in with work and your personal life. As you weigh your options, consider the following questions, which are designed to help you decide whether online education is the right choice for you:

1. Are you self-motivated?

One reason online courses are perfect for many students is that, in some programs, you get to decide when to log on or listen to a lecture you’ve downloaded. There are no set schedules, and you don’t have to be in a certain classroom at a given time. For some people, that level of freedom just doesn’t work – they need a strict schedule to keep them motivated enough to attend class. But if you can set and stick to your own schedule, you’ll be just fine with online courses – even if you procrastinate from time to time. Here’s a helpful tip: create a calendar at the start of each week and budget time for attending class, studying and doing your assignments. Creating weekly calendars allows you more flexibility to plan around your work and family responsibilities.

2. How are your time management skills?

Are you good at making deadlines, or do you typically need to ask for more time to meet obligations? If you answer “yes” to the first part of that question, you have nothing to worry about. If you typically need more time, then you’ll need to hone your time management skills before enrolling in an online degree program. Succeeding in online learning means making the time to log in for classes and discussions, as well as dedicating sufficient time for homework and study time. Before you enroll in an online course, assess your time management skills – and make a commitment to improve them if you come up short!

3. How are your computer skills?

Succeeding in an online degree course means being comfortable with technology. Ideally, you’ll have a stable and fast Internet connection, so you can get online and view or download lectures without interruption. You’ll also need a computer with an upgraded operating system that can handle the demands you’ll be asking of it. Finally, you’ll need good computer skills, with the proficiency to use email and word-processing software, download files and navigate an online learning environment without holdups or frustrations.

4. Are you willing to participate?

Traditional classroom settings don’t require everyone to participate. In fact, some students can go through an entire course without ever answering a question or offering an opinion. Elearning typically requires more participation. Students ask questions and respond to each other via discussion boards, usually several times a week. Being self-motivated will help you in this aspect of online learning, so include discussion time in your weekly schedule.  

5. How are your writing skills?

Earning a degree online requires a great deal of written communication, from posting in discussion boards to participating in class projects. If your grammar, spelling and other written communication skills are sub-par, you may not achieve the level of success you seek, regardless of how good your ideas may be. You can always get extra help from a tutor, or take an introductory writing course before you enroll in your degree program.

Is an Online Degree Program for You?

Online learning can be great way to earn a degree on your own terms. If you’re realistic about your skills and abilities, and can motivate yourself to keep going, you can be successful – and soon enjoy the rewards that come with earning your degree!

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