Enrolling at the Wrong School
Diploma mills are less prevalent than they used to be, but some students still waste time and money at schools that don’t adhere to industry standards. Find a program that is regionally or nationally accredited by an accrediting agency that is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and/or CHEA. Search the Department of Education’s database here: http://ope.ed.gov/accreditation.
Enrolling in the Wrong Program
Investigate whether or not the degree in question can lead to licensure (if licensure is required in your field.) Some teaching programs will not lead to state teacher certification – even if the school itself is accredited. Some programs are terminal, meaning you can’t build on them if you eventually need an advanced degree. You won’t know unless you ask. Request information from 3 or 4 enrollment counselors at the schools you’re considering, and check out online resources which offer career articles that can point you in the right direction.
Not “Owning” Your Degree
Online classes are a convenient option for millions of students, but convenient doesn’t mean carefree. Don’t expect that you’ll be handed a degree without having to earn it. Yes, you can study from home. And yes, you can set your own pace. Still, if you’re serious about broadening your career options and boosting your earning potential, you have to be dedicated to all of your assignments. You have to do the work, and genuinely care about the results.
Keeping the “Distance” in Distance Education
Online learning is not the isolating experience that some critics might allege. In fact, online students usually develop stronger connections with their classmates and instructors, because scheduled communication is a part of the course design. Most online classes require students to post comments or participate in live chat sessions. Make sure you take advantage of the interplay that’s encouraged. You’ll learn more, and you’ll develop a strong network of supporters, who can guide you throughout your career.
Wasting School Resources
As online education attracts more students, online colleges and universities are expanding their resources. In fact, many online schools provide all the support services that you would find at a campus-based school – including online libraries, career counseling, writing tutors, study support, and more. Don’t forget to access these free resources! You’ll save valuable time and energy, plus improve your learning experience.
This is a guest post by Elizabeth O’Neill, who writes about online colleges for EarnMyDegree.com.