Online degrees have surged in popularity in recent years, due in part to advances in technology that make web classes nearly identical to in-person options. There are many types of programs to choose from, and while an online education is seemingly perfect for the current world climate, it’s essential to make sure you’re truly ready for it. When it comes to preparing for the financial aspect, research the grants and scholarships available through the Josephine County Educational Fund. Then, consider what it takes to earn a degree in a self-guided program online, and think about where your interests lie.
Choose an area of study
With so many options to choose from, it can be a bit overwhelming to choose an area of study, so it’s important to research the various degrees that are available through online programs. For example, technology is a popular field, and the job prospects for those who earn a tech-related degree are often quite lucrative. You might choose IT and learn about information technology, data analytics, or cybersecurity; or, you might study cloud computing or software development. These degrees require a love of math and problem-solving, so read up on the details before committing to a program.
Assess your ability to self-guide
Once you’ve chosen a degree program, it’s time to think about how you’ll succeed. Although online programs offer plenty of resources and access to professors and counselors, it’s still important for students to be able to self-guide. This means taking responsibility for deadlines, taking initiative on projects and homework, and keeping up with the course load. This can be challenging for many, especially with a job or family factored in, so it’s essential that you assess your ability to work on your own before you apply to a program.
Plan out your time wisely
While online degrees offer much more flexibility than traditional classes, it’s still important for students to devote a certain number of hours per week to school work, and you’ll need to take this into consideration before you begin. Research the individual classes you’ll begin with to see how the instructors set up deadlines, and take a look at your calendar to make sure you’ll have the time to devote to your work. Create a backup plan for vacations or trips that would leave you unable to access your classes.
It’s also a good idea to learn about the university’s policy on taking academic leave should an emergency arise; don’t forget to factor in financial aid policies, as taking time off school may interfere with your payment plan.
Prepare for post-graduation
It’s never too early to start thinking about what you’ll do after graduation, so create a plan now rather than waiting until the end of the program. Look online to get an idea of the types of jobs in the field that are available in your area and find out what the average salary is. If you’re willing to relocate, check out the stats in other cities compared to your own. You can even start networking now on social media and creating an online presence so you’ll have access to beneficial resources.
It’s also advisable to think about looking for an internship in your chosen field. This is a great way to earn experience and even credit toward classes, and it can be truly beneficial post-graduation. Search in your area for available internships and check to see if they are paid or unpaid.
Figuring out an educational path can be so rewarding, but it requires quite a bit of thought and planning if you want to find success without a ton of frustration. Do your research early and make sure you have the financial backing to take the courses you need, whether through grants, private loans, or federal funds.
If you’re a local student looking for financial aid for your chosen degree program, remember to keep JCEF scholarship programs in mind.