10 Questions You Have about Online Learning

Posted by on Tue, Feb 25, 2014

10 Questions You Have about Online Learning

Online learning is an education method that delivers information and course content through electronic media instead of the traditional in-person classroom. The curriculum in online programs is specifically designed to be taught and learned using technological resources and to be conducted remotely. Online learning offers advantages for many types of students and can deliver equal learning outcomes to traditional education.

 [Get college credit for your life experience with this free online course.]

What are the benefits of online learning?

Online learning has many advantages. For most students, they start with the flexibility it offers. With online programs, you can earn a degree on your own schedule and from your own location. You can study for your degree while juggling other responsibilities, such as work and family, at the same time. Typically, you set your own study schedule, and some online degree programs allow you to complete your degree at your own pace.

Online learning also gives students the opportunity to apply their learning at their jobs as they progress through their coursework. Balancing a degree program while actively working gives you a real-world application to your learning in which you can see the effects of your growth. Online learning may also offer benefits of reduced tuition costs and shorter terms of study.

Will my online degree be as good as a degree earned on campus?

The most important aspect of earning your degree is the skills and qualifications you gain as a result. Employers are looking for qualified candidates to fill positions in the job market. They rarely evaluate whether you achieved the educational credentials you have online or on campus, and most are aware of the opportunities online education offers potential employees. In a recent study of online learning, Babson Survey Research Group found that among students who earned an online degree, 45% received salary increases and 36% reported promotions during the first year after graduation. As long your chosen institution is accredited, your online degree will be just as valuable as a degree from an on-campus school. You can check the US Department of Education’s database of accredited postsecondary schools for a list of institutions that meet the education quality standards.

[Read answers from our experts to the common question, Is it better to go to college on a campus or online?]

How computer savvy do you need to be for online learning?

Anyone reading this article online has the skills necessary to study online: a computer with Internet access and general computer proficiency. Most online universities will offer technology support and resources to help you develop your skills if necessary.

Can I qualify for financial aid as an online student?

Many online universities offer financial aid, reduced tuition programs, and credits for experiential learning that can reduce the costs of your degree program. Online students are also eligible for scholarships specifically for online learners.

[Many universities award college credit for military training and help you Speed to a Degree.]

How will I interact with my professor in an online class?

Professors are available online by email, instant chat, and during live online seminars. Many online professors hold regular office hours in which they are available for a discussion or to help with any student needs.

Can I interact with other online students?

Online students are encouraged to interact with one another and work in teams, similar to an in-person setting. You can communicate with other students through email and participation in virtual discussions in online forums. Many online universities also offer online collaboration platforms that allow students to work on projects together using audio and visual tools. Some online students form study groups among themselves to further support one another and work together on coursework.

How much time should I set aside each week per course?

It’s a good idea to plan on having up to 12 hours available for coursework per week for each course.

How long do online degrees take to complete?

The length of an online degree depends on your program. One of the benefits of online learning is that you can customize your program to fit your schedule. To give you a general idea, most bachelor’s degrees will take about four years to complete. A master’s degree may take two years, and an RN-BSN degree completion program may take approximately 18 months.

You can also complete your online degree in less time by receiving college credits for your prior learning. Many universities offer prior learning assessment programs that award academic credits for knowledge you’ve gained outside the classroom. These programs can save students a semester or more of course requirements.

 [Are you eligible for prior learning credits? Find out with the free course Documenting Your Experiences for College Credit.]

Can I participate in a graduation ceremony?

Earning your degree is an accomplishment and should be celebrated. Most online universities host a graduation ceremony and invite graduates to receive their diplomas in person.

How do I choose an online degree program?

Two factors are important in your search for the right online university. First, be sure that the school is accredited. Second, research the degree programs offered among online schools and potential career choices before you enroll. Look for an industry that you’re passionate about and that has a healthy job market. Find out what skills and education are needed in your industry to evaluate online program offerings. Finding the intersection between what you love and what will make you an attractive job candidate will help you choose the online degree program with which you can best develop those skills.

Do you think employers should ask if your degree was earned online? 

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