Do you want to get a degree online? Here’s 5 helpful tips that can really help you attain your goal.
If you want to get a degree online, you are certainly not alone. More students than ever are opting to study online these days.
In the US alone, more than 6.3 million students were enrolled in at least one online course during the 2015/2016 school year. Here at University of the People, about 50% of our online students hail from countries outside of the US. In the UK, more and more international students are deciding to study online at UK-based universities from the comfort of their home country — for example, there was a whopping 135% increase of South Africans enrolled in online programs of UK universities in 2016.
There’s plenty of good reasons why online study is steadily on the rise. But making such an important life decision like choosing how and where you will get your degree is never easy. That’s why we’re giving you 5 quick tips that can help you make a more informed decision when choosing the best online degree program for you.
Benefits to choosing an online degree program
First, here’s some top reasons why it’s a great idea to consider pursuing an online degree that you may not have considered yet.
1. Way more flexibility
Opting to study online means you never have to commute to class again. You can study whenever and wherever is convenient for you. This is especially helpful if you have a job to keep or a family to care for.
2. More affordable
Compared to studying on campus, online programs are usually a lot cheaper. since there’s no required costs for the upkeep of campus grounds, buildings, and course books. Plus, you save on commuting costs as well — which can really add up when you have to travel to school every single day.
Here at University of the People, we take affordability to the next level. All of our online degree programs are tuition-free. We do not charge our students for courses, course materials, or annual enrollment. All you have to pay is the application fee and an assessment fee per course completed. If those fees are still too high for you to be able to reasonably afford, we also offer scholarships for those unable to pay. At UoPeople we believe education is a right and not a privilege and don’t want anyone to be turned away from pursuing a quality education.
3. Online degrees are just as respected
It’s a total myth that online degrees are inferior to degrees obtained on campus. Universities do not make any distinction between their distance learning programs and their on-campus counterparts. You can get just as great of an education learning online as you can learning in person, as you’re taught the exact same curriculum, and employers respect these degrees just as much.
4. Study at your dream university
When you are only looking at local colleges and universities, your options are severely limited by your location. But when you start looking at the plethora of online degree programs out there, the entire world is your oyster! You could get a Harvard degree from South Africa, or study at the University of Tasmania from Kansas. Choosing to get a degree online means you can find your dream program, no matter where you happen to live.
5 Tips to Get a Degree Online
Now that you know all the juicy benefits of studying online, here’s 5 helpful tips to make all your degree dreams come true.
1. Work out your budget
While online programs are generally cheaper, they can still be quite costly. Make sure you have a budget worked out so you know how much you can reasonably afford. Do everything you can in your power to keep yourself from drowning in growing student loan debt.
If the program you’re interested is expensive, see if you qualify for financial aid and apply to every relevant scholarship you can find. You can also get a part-time job to help fund you, or try to seek employment that can pay for your degree.
Alternatively, if money is an issue, consider looking at low-cost or tuition-free programs, such as the programs we offer at University of the People. If you’re interested in pursuing a degree in business administration, computer science, health science, or education, then enrolling in one of our US accredited, tuition-free programs at UoPeople could change your life!
2. Look at accreditation
One of the most important things to look out for when choosing an online degree program is whether or not the university is accredited. Accreditation is a formal recognition that an institution has high educational and ethical standards, qualified instructors, and an ethical admissions procedure.
Be sure to do your research before enrolling in a program, and make sure it’s accredited. This will ensure you get a high quality education from a respected school, and it can save you a lot of trouble down the road when trying to get a job. Many employers will not even consider a degree from an unaccredited institution as valid.
3. Choose your online degree program carefully
With so many online degree options to choose from, make sure you take plenty of time and thought into picking a program that perfectly suits your needs. It’s helpful to request more information about the programs you’re interested in, as you can learn more in-depth details about them and ask specific questions you may have to an advisor at each university. Sometimes you can even be put in touch with graduates to directly speak with them about their experiences, to really get a feel on whether the program is right for you or not.
It’s also important to know what the entrance requirements are for each school you are considering. They may have a required minimum GPA, submit SAT scores, and/or prove that you have completed high school. If you’re from a non-English speaking country, many will require you to provide proof of English proficiency through a standardized test such as TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language).
Once you know what the programs require of you, pick out a handful that fit your needs and look interesting and exciting to you, and then apply to them! Hopefully you get into your dream university, but it’s not always the case. It’s always good to apply to a few places and see what happens.
4. Find the best online university for you
It can be difficult narrowing down your options, when there’s literally thousands upon thousands of universities out there to choose from! Here’s some respected accredited universities that offer great online degrees, to help you get a small taste of what’s out there.
Penn State World Campus
Ranking as the #1 best online university by College Choice, it’s certainly worth taking a peek at what programs Penn State World Campus offers — and there’s a lot! They offer over 150 online degree and certificate programs, developed and taught by highly respected Penn State professors. It’s not so cheap, however, with an average net price of around $23,000 to get your degree.
University of the People
University of the People offers tuition-free, 100% online degrees to anyone in the world wishing to further their education. UoPeople is a great option if the high price tags that come with other degrees has been hindering your decision to further your education. Academic leadership team members join our ranks from universities like New York University, Yale, University of California, Berkeley, and more.
The Open University
The Open University is the biggest university in Europe and offers highly respected distance learning degrees. To date, they’ve taught more than 2 million students worldwide. They offer over 230 degrees, ranging from business to law to humanities, and everything in between.
University of New England
Rated as Australia’s best online university, University of New England has been a leading innovator of flexible study for over 60 years. They offer great online programs in the arts, business, education, and science. UNE has very high satisfaction ratings from graduates, as well as high graduate salaries.
University of Florida
With over 300 online programs, the University of Florida is a highly respected distance learning university both in the US and worldwide. Their online MBA program in particular was rated the best MBA program in the state of Florida, according to the US News & World Report.
5. Keep an eye on the future
Before jumping into a higher education program, it’s crucial to know exactly what you will be gaining from this big commitment of time, money, and energy. It’s a good idea to keep an eye on what the future may bring if you decide to pursue an online degree, so you will better understand exactly why you’re putting in all the effort.
You should do plenty of research into figuring out what specific skills you are looking to obtain, what jobs this degree could open up for you, and what your potential future salary could look like, both for entry-level jobs and more senior-level positions down the road.
It’s up to you to weigh these factors and decide if the investment of getting a degree is worth it or not for you. You wouldn’t want to sink precious time and money investing in a degree that you later realize isn’t useful to you down the road, either because there’s poor job prospects or you chose a program that didn’t suit your needs.
On the other hand, you may realize the degree could open up more doors than you previously thought. Did you know the average annual salary of an American with an MBA is $85,000? Knowing these relevant facts can encourage you to pursue your online degree and keep you motivated throughout your studies.
Good luck on your endeavors to further your education and pursue your dreams. May they all come true!