While so many adults are choosing to go back to school or learn a new trade that may require a college degree or certificate, an important decision is whether to go in-person or online. The good news is that you have many choices to choose from when looking into both online and in-person schools. Make a list and write down some of your wants and needs for this decision and order them in terms of the highest importance. Here are few reasons why many are choosing online degrees over the traditional brick and mortar schools:
Pandemic – Many of us are realizing the value of a better work/life balance, which typically includes working and studying from home. This also helps us stay safe and healthy during the pandemic.
Less Expensive – Typically, online educations have lower costs involved because colleges do not have to pay for the physical classroom and other overhead associated with this kind of higher learning. Most classes use computers in the classroom now anyway, so why not work from your home the same as you would in the classroom while saving money?
Real Education – Online education is considered real education. Online students learn the same coursework and have the same quality of education as in-person students. The only real difference is which way you choose to attend.
With so many choices of online higher education, it is hard to choose just one option. From a two-year community college program to a top-tier university, you have many choices at your fingertips. While some schools are advertising to you non-stop on TV ads and online, it is hard to tell if a for-profit school is right for you, or if you should research a not-for-profit school. For-profit schools are just that, they run like a business and sometimes are publicly traded companies. Not-for-profit schools are considered a traditional school that takes funding, but besides overhead, the money earned goes back into the school itself. Here are a few tips to check before deciding which is best for you:
Accreditation – Not all schools are accredited by a regional or national agency. This means they may not be recognized by employers or other schools if you decide to transfer or get a higher degree such as a master’s or doctoral degree. In terms of importance, I would say that this ranks #1. You do not want to spend your money on a school that does not give you a leg up on your peers and cannot help your future.
Completion time – Compare what your timeframe is vs what the school’s completion time for the program is. Many schools promise you will be done in a set period of time only to find out you missed your timeline due to an internship, thesis, lab work, and other requirements that you may need.
Grants and Scholarships – Do you need help funding your education? If so, this is a very important item to check off your list. This may take a bit of research on your end but it is well worth it. Grants and scholarships are different than financial aid because you do not need to pay them back unless there is a clause that states repayment for a term not met by the agreement.