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Online Degree Programs

Online degree programs are a great way to accomplish a higher level of education, which often means a better job and a bigger paycheck. They are not, however, a free ride to this particular professional destination and should not be viewed as the easy way out.

In fact, there is a great deal more discipline required of successfully completing online degree programs than there is required of the more traditional classroom learning environment. After all, there is no one checking the roll for attendance when you are studying independently so the only person an online student has to answer to is him- or herself. At least on a daily basis.

Even online degree programs come with a time limit for completion. The wise student studying remotely will develop a schedule for study and stick to it as diligently as if the most harsh professor was recording every minute of study. It's difficult enough to catch up when traditional studies get neglected but it can seem almost impossible to catch up when studying independently.

And a common misperception about online degree programs is that they are easier than the more traditional learning environment. This isn't necessarily so. After all, there is a great deal of unscheduled but highly informative discussion that takes place in a classroom but it doesn't happen at all when a student is studying alone in the middle of the night.

Some students thrive on the interaction that takes place in a classroom but others get distracted by it. For those of us who get distracted, online degree programs may keep us focused better but only as long as we remain focused on studying and on the school's timeline for class completion.

In many cases, students studying for online degree programs view videotaped lectures and laboratory procedures that are presented in the more traditional setting. This means the online course of study is almost an exact match to the course of study that would be received with classroom attendance, except without the ability to interact personally in real time with fellow students and instructors.

The educational standards are the same, too, for online degree programs and for those earned in the classroom. Every school that offers either must meet the same regulatory standards issued by the same accrediting bodies.

There was once a time when online degree programs were offered by independently operated entities with no affiliation whatsoever with accredited schools but those days are mostly gone now. Nevertheless, it's always a wise student who will check the accreditation status of any online schools of interest before investing any time or money into such an endeavor.

Education, whether learning via online degree programs or in the classroom, is a time-consuming and costly mission. Do check the credentials of every learning institution under consideration before enrolling formally in any degree program, online or in person.

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