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Is Online Education For You?

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Online education has come to the rescue of thousands of individuals who otherwise would not have had the opportunity to welcome a new ray of hope in their lives. There are countless people who are having a difficult time coping with increased needs and rising costs in a labor market that refuses to expand job-wise. There are many who have to look after their families with whatever little they are earning in their present jobs. These jobs were probably below expectation for two reasons: one, jobs are few and far between nowadays; and two, their own qualifications, or the lack thereof, being a severely limiting factor.

There is growing realization that one can expand one’s horizons only by gaining new qualifications and skills – qualifications and skills that have more chances of getting an individual more gainful employment. As an answer to this dilemma, today there are numerous institutions offering degrees and certificates through online education that are accredited by the appropriate authorities. Certainly, accredited online education has become a boon to busy Americans, but it is not limited to those in the U.S. International students too can reap rich benefits from online education. 

Whatever the student’s nationality, online education incurs fewer expenses than attending a brick and mortar college. International students taking online education get to save considerably on lodging and boarding expenses. Some may harbor doubts that an online education is not real education. Well, perish the thought. Today, millions of students are enrolled in online courses and working towards attaining their certificates and degrees in a subject of their choice without attending college. What’s more, international students do not have to go through the harrowing and expensive visa application process and purchase air tickets at considerable cost. They can take U.S. courses while staying in their own countries. Sounds attractive, doesn’t it? However, before embarking on an online education from an accredited American university conducting an online education program, here are some things you need to keep in mind:

First of all, it’s the reputation of the online education program that you have to verify. How do you go about doing this? Do extensive research on the university in question. There will probably be many discussion forums as well as other sites where students talk about their experiences. Ask questions on such sites, dig deeper. Accreditation is of course what is most important – the university has to be one that is recognized so that the degree you earn will have mileage later on when looking for a job or when pursuing still higher studies. The U.S. Department of Higher Education and the Council for Higher Accreditation (CHEA) are responsible for giving recognition to accrediting bodies which can be regional or national. Although national accreditation bodies have obviously a wider purview, regional accreditation bodies have more intimate knowledge about the region under their jurisdiction. To put your mind at rest, both are equally respected.

The second thing that you must give consideration to while opting for an online education program is the presence of an adequate support system. Ensure that virtual support will always be on hand when required so that your journey towards an online degree is not interrupted. Naturally, technology that assures a help desk around the clock is vital since you have to make considerations for different time zones. This help desk must also be always available to provide you with tutoring services and personalized guidance. In online education, technology providing 24/7 services is also essential because you’ll be interacting continuously with fellow online students and you’ll be participating in virtual student groups to discuss and debate on common academic subjects being taught. This is all part of online education programs, often, you will have to express your own opinions on issues and comment on others’ opinions as well. It’s all an ongoing process, so 24/7 services are crucial.

The third thing you should look for is whether you can transfer your work later on. This is important because, often, many international students like to earn credits from online education in the beginning, and later, may want to get a degree from another institution. If such is the case with you, and online education is only a stepping stone, then make sure that your credits are transferable to other online education programs or at traditional brick and mortar campuses. There are some online education programs that could permit you to take exams to earn credits. If you are opting for this way to earn some credits, then do ensure that the tests you complete for credit are acceptable at other colleges – otherwise you’ll be wasting money.

The fourth thing to consider when choosing an online education program is to firstly make sure you understand what your own academic needs are and then only go forth. While it is true that online education is very similar to traditional education as far as course work, exams, and reviews are concerned, online education requires a certain amount of discipline and determination. You have to have a high degree of motivation as well to stay the course since you won’t be having any fellow students or teachers around you to make sure you do. Self-direction and self-discipline are what you need to be equipped with if you are to be successful in completing an online education program.

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