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Traditional college is still the norm, but an increasing number of people are going a non-traditional route to earn a college degree. While popular, and maybe cheaper, there are things you should know about distance learning.
First thing you need to check out is if the college program you want is even offered online. Not all degrees or majors are available. Some schools offer a limited selection. Chances are, degrees in things like the science field cannot be completed online. Yes, general education requirements may be done, but science classes are such that they do not transfer over to an online environment very well. If the degree you want is not offered online, they may have a hybrid route. Hybrid classes are a combination of online and in-person attendance, or meeting with the instructor at various times during the term. Professional programs like Nursing, will need all clinicals scheduled and done in person.
Second, an online degree is not for everyone. There's a reason why traditional college will always be the biggest option. Attending classes online does not give immediate help. Taking a hybrid, on some instances, you may be able to ask questions online. If you want one on one help, you still must schedule an appointment with the instructor. You have to be a person who is comfortable studying and learning by oneself. Remember, computers are machines and are subject to certain limitations and problems. Electricity going out at the wrong time may be fatal. Internet connections can be iffy. Always have an alternate computer connection, like the local library or coffee house.
But an online degree is a great way for working adults to earn a degree. You can "attend" classes at your leisure, and do research, projects, and assignments on your time. Yes, there will still be deadlines, so keep organized. Not attending class in person on a regular basis may make you a little lazy. Be aware that the work for an online degree is just as great, if not greater, as a traditional degree.
Will an online degree save you money? Well, it depends. The tuition for online degree classes is probably pretty close the same as traditional classes. Books also the same. What makes it cheaper, is the cost of transportation. You won't have to get a parking pass. You won't spend money on gas. You won't spend money on snacks that a lot of students eat in between classes. Just don't expect to save a lot of money. A hybrid degree will not save as much.
Is an online degree quicker? Probably not. Colleges have little leeway when dealing with class time. Some online classes are set up similar to summer classes. Because you do more hours each week, your class is not nearly as long as a quarter. Some online classes are actually as long as the quarter, and are scheduled the same. However, most colleges offer night classes that are shorter. You do multiple hours each night. Perhaps your university or college has night class programs for working adults. Many do.
How about online law degrees? Forget it. Right now, unfortunately, there are some online degrees being offered. But as of this writing, none of these programs are recognized by any Bar Association. That is, no completely online J.D. degrees are.
Before deciding to take online classes, it is best to really do some research. Ask some friends what it's like. Talk to a counselor. Above all, make sure that your degree will be worth something after completing it online.