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Friday, January 15, 2021

Is It Time For You to Get an Online Degree

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In today's socially distanced, remote-learning age, with many virtual solutions arising as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, more and more people are looking towards the possibility of online learning. Allowing people to obtain a degree without needing to leave the house, they have grown in relevance and popularity in 2020. It is likely in future years that they will only rise in prominence and could even become the main method of learning for many people across the globe.

This has already been the case for several years, however, with data showing that online learning has grown year upon year since 2002, and at a higher pace than traditional learning. It's only this year that university courses have been predominately online, making everyone far more acquainted with the concept of zoom-lectures, remote collaborations, and virtual seminars. Basically, everyone is learning online now, from primary schools to even so-called physical institutions.

New Beginnings, New Opportunities

The opportunity has also arisen for many people to reinvent themselves in the face of economic downturn and uncertainty. By retraining and gaining new skills, one can remerge into the workplace ahead of and more qualified than their peers. Perhaps you are thinking of using this time to pursue an online degree. This is a difficult choice, however, and not one that should be entered into lightly.

To help you make the best choice possible, we have written this article, which will explore whether or not getting an online degree is the right option for you. We will cover topics such as setting goals, economic concerns, accreditation issues, the job market, and time management, as well as suggesting one degree that we particularly like. Read on below to see whether an online degree is the right choice for you.

The first question you may be asking yourself is:

Are Online Degrees as Respected as In-Person Degrees?

Online degrees might seem like a relatively new phenomenon, but in fact, they are as old as the internet itself. In 1989, the University of Phoenix in Arizona became the first institution to offer a fully online program for both bachelor's and master's degrees. Its roots go even further back than this: in 1873, Ana Eliot Ticknor created a correspondence education program named the "Society to Encourage Home Studies" — meaning that remote learning is far older than you think.

Nonetheless, there has been a stigma that has lingered over online degrees since they began in the late 80s and early 90s. But this is not so much linked to the value of remote learning as the institutions themselves. While there are substandard degrees everywhere, this has as much to do with the place that is offering the degree as the mode of learning itself. Now, with top universities such as Harvard and Cambridge offering the opportunity to learn online, this stigma has been almost completely debunked.

Now if you obtain an online degree, there is no need to state on your cover letter whether that degree was online or in person. At the end of the day, a degree is a degree. A lot of time and effort went into obtaining it, and a professional qualification is likely to stand you in good stead moving forward into the job market.

One Great Place to Train for an Online Degree

In the old days — around ten years ago — there used to be a somewhat clear distinction between legacy institutions that would only offer in-person degrees and upstart institutions that have innovated with online learning. Nowadays, this distinction has almost completely gone, with plenty of very-well respected institutions offering the opportunity to obtain qualifications simply through the power of the internet.

One place we are fond of is Laurier Online, which offers degrees in Criminology and Policing, Public Safety Programs, Social Work, and Computer Science. You can learn fully remotely and with a flexible schedule, meaning that you can find a degree program that is tailored around your schedule. If you would like to learn more about what they offer, especially in regards to their Criminology and Policing practice — which is perfect for those who want to learn more about the ins and outs of the academic underpinnings of law enforcement — you can learn more simply by clicking on the link here

We believe that it is perfect for both those who have an interest in the subject, as well as both active and retired policemen looking to transition or gain more valuable insight into the field. But before you launch into anything, you have to ask yourself:

Does a Degree Align With Your Goals?

Degrees take up a lot of time and money. This is no different with online degrees, which, despite seeming like something you can casually do from the comfort of your own home in your pajamas, are in fact just as rigorous and as demanding as any other type of degree. If you are going to decide to launch into something such as this, it is worth thinking long and hard as to whether it actually aligns with your professional goals.

For example, if you want to work as a financial manager, but you don't have a BA in economics or something equivalent, then it makes sense for you to pursue that goal, as a company probably won't hire you otherwise. This is also true for any profession that requires accreditation before you get started.  But a lot of professions don't particularly need degrees — for example, if you want to be a filmmaker, then there's really no point in doing a film school degree unless you can't see yourself succeeding in the industry in any other way.

Can It Work Virtually?

It's worth considering that not every qualification can be learned entirely virtually. For example, if you are looking to work in a proper trade such as plumbing or carpentry, there are some things you simply cannot learn without getting on-site and obtaining some practical experience.

Additionally, while the coronavirus is likely to be around for the next few months, it won't be around forever, meaning that there will come a time when in-person interaction will become an important part of most professions. Consider whether it's worth postponing online learning until higher education institutions can open properly again, so you can take part in the social fabric of life and gain crucial-in person experiences.

Do You Have Enough Time?

Online degrees are obviously more flexible than in-person ones. This is because the time spent commuting is completely abolished, as well as the need to learn at a fixed time. Like any major learning achievement in life, however, achieving your goals through an online course does take up a significant amount of time. For example, according to US News, the average student should expect to spend 36-54 hours during their online degree.

Do you have 30-50 hours to spare every single week? It's really worth having a long think about whether or not you are truly able to invest a large amount of time in this venture first before launching headlong into it. This is especially true if you are balancing other responsibilities such as looking after loved ones, working a full-time job, or engaged in any long-time hobbies. Emotional and physical burnout could ensue if you try and fit in a degree amidst a variety of other things.

Does It Fit Within Your Budget?

There are a lot of economic benefits to learning online. You can balance it alongside another job, meaning you don't lose income. You can cut down on commuting costs and the cost of relocation. You don't have to pay rent in a pricy student town. You can also make food at home as opposed to eating in a campus location. Online learning degrees are often much cheaper than their physical counterparts.

But online learning isn't free. The average cost of an online degree is still between $38,000 and $60,000. While there are loan programs available to help bear the sizeable brunt of the cost, you have to be sure that you will be able to repay the loan or at least have a favorable repayment scheme before you decide to take part in an online degree. If you are not sure, you can always have a consultation with a financial manager before taking part.

Is the Degree Accredited?

This one is essential. The last thing you want to do is to obtain a degree from an institution that is low-level or based in a country that doesn't have some kind of internationally respected standard that means you can take a related profession later on.

That's why, when looking for a place to do an online degree, it is really important to double-check that the institution has been accredited. Don't just take the institution's word for it: take a look at other websites to see if they have been individually accredited before handing over your time and money.

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