Not since the revolutionary invention of Gutenberg's printing press in the 15th century has a single technology so dramatically changed the future of education as the internet. Just as movable type helped create a booming university culture in the late-middle ages, so too has the modern web created an educational paradigm shift. Not only has the internet democratized education, it has fundamentally changed how and where we learn.
Online learning is the natural evolution of this second great shift in educational technology. As modern Americans have grown networked and connected across various digital devices, so too has our busy society become accustomed to learning where and when we want. As a consequence, millions of people pursue higher education and earn college degrees every year without ever stepping foot on the grassy quad of a physical campus.
We used to have to leave home and go off to school to get a degree. No more. We can get a quality education from anywhere. Now we have the opportunity to study what we want, when we want, and most importantly, where we want.
How to Find the Right School
Now that you've decided to pursue an online degree on your terms and your timeline, the next step is to decide on the school that best meets your career goals and interests. Fortunately for you, there are more online schools available today than ever before. Choosing the right school has never been easier. No matter your field of interest, from business, to culinary arts, photography to fashion, fire science to nursing, Education.org will point you in the right academic direction.
First, decide what you want to study, then explore schools offering the degree programs you find interesting, and finally, research the degree schedule and cost of your ideal school. While you are gathering information, make sure to read testimonials, talk to admissions officers, and ask your network of friends and family about their experience at the school of your choice. Since you can study at dozens of schools from the comfort of your own home, you have a huge variety of programs and degrees available to you.
What to Expect
Online learning is a lot like traditional learning, only instead of commuting to the classroom, you'll join class discussions and seminars electronically. While online, you will read class material, take and compile notes, and form study groups with your classmates to prepare for exams. Thanks to video and chat technology, you may enjoy face-to-face interactions, live forums, team projects, and homework assignments all delivered via your computer.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, the government does not accredit academic institutions itself; instead, the USDE recognizes select accrediting agencies as reliable educational arbiters. To find if your school is nationally recognized and accredited by one of these accrediting agencies, search through this list.
As with anything, the cost of your online degree will depend on the particular program and online learning college you choose. To calculate the cost of your tuition, first factor in the total number of credits required for your degree, and then include any associated fees for electronic classroom materials.
In general, all you will need to pursue a degree via online learning is a computer, an internet connection, and a telephone to talk to your instructors and classmates when necessary.
Time Management Tips
While studying at home is indeed more convenient, it does present some unique time management challenges. It's unlikely that you'll find yourself watching television while your professor talks when you're sitting in a crowded lecture hall. At home on the other hand, you'll have plenty of ways to distract yourself with nobody but yourself to keep you on task. Like any degree, it's important to set aside appropriate time for your studies in a quiet room or office that is free of distraction. Once you get used to the freedoms that online learning provides, you'll enjoy the best of both worlds. Just think, you'll never need to ask permission to go to the restroom again.