How To Pick The Online Degree That Fits You Best (2018 Update)

How To Pick The Online Degree That Fits You Best (2018 Update)
Roman Samborskyi/
Summary: Deciding what to study and how seems like an impossible choice at any level of education. So, how do you choose the online degree program that suits you best and warrants the investment of both time and money?

7 Tips To Pick The Online Degree That Fits You Best

Learning online offers a lot of advantages, especially for people in the workforce. They already have jobs and family responsibilities, so their time is precious. However, they still want to improve themselves and broaden their horizons. It could boost their earning potential and career prospects. Online degrees are a convenient tool for this undertaking. They allow flexibility and offer minimal interference to existing routines. But beyond picking the right online training program, how do you pick the right online training course? For earlier degrees, you may have relied on peer pressure, parental direction, or high school interests. How do you decide as an independent adult?

1. Consider Your Career Path

What prompted you to seek an online degree? Is there a job offer or promotion that requires those qualifications? Have you seen a peer or acquaintance succeed in that field and considered joining it? In such cases, the online training course you need comes ‘pre-selected’ and you already know what to look for. For further guidance, you could speak to your HR department, or to a trusted mentor. They can tell you which degrees are marketable in your field, narrowing down your search area. Your own personal passions and pursuits should also come into play. For example, you’ve always been interested in graphic design. Even if it doesn’t tie into your current career path, earning an online degree may lead to new professional opportunities. And it involves something you enjoy and find personally rewarding.

2. Get A Virtual ‘Visitor’s Pass’

Many online institutions offer free online training courses or previews that allow you to test out the online training course before you sign up. For example, you’re able to participate in a webinar or mini-course to get a feel for the design, instructional approach, etc. This also gives you the opportunity to explore their support services firsthand. Contact their enrollment department after the preview to address any concerns you may have. Do they respond promptly and professionally? Are they willing to go that extra mile to ensure that you’re choosing the right online degree?

3. Evaluate The Institution’s Background

The online degree is only as valid as the institution behind it. For example, are they accredited so that your online degree is recognized by potential employers? How long have they been in business and what is their track record? Do some online research into their background and whether they’ve built a solid reputation. Look for reviews/ratings that shed light on more subtle aspects of the online training course. For instance, a past online learner mentions the institution lacks support services or financial assistance.

4. Calculate The Expenses Involved

Of course, the cost is always a factor. More involved online degrees may require a more significant investment. The same rule applies to online degrees from more prestigious institutions. For this reason, you need to calculate an accurate budget of how much you can spend and whether it’s worth the expense. For instance, it may cost more to pursue a specific online degree, but it has the potential to move you a few rungs up the corporate ladder. Which means a higher paying salary and other benefits. It’s also wise to look into the payment plans. Some institutions allow you to pay over time instead of having to cover all your expenses upfront.

5. Length Over Breadth

Depending on the online training course you select, you could take a deep dive or an overview. For example, you’re looking for a comprehensive online degree program that explores every aspect of online marketing. But beyond the depth of the subject, you need to think about how much time you can commit. Do you want a three-year online degree or a six-year online training program? And how many hours per week do you need to set aside to achieve your goal?

6. Structure Of The Online Training Course

Online degrees are structured differently from regular ones. Do you want a mix of offline and online classes, or do you strictly need a distance learning layout? For some online training courses, you have to physically attend sessions for a week or two every semester. Usually, it’s the first week, for orientation, and the last week, for exams. Can you afford the time and travel? You should also check their virtual prowess. After all, proven expertise in classroom-based teaching doesn’t always translate into effective online training.

7. Talk To An Expert

Yes, there is an equivalent of a guidance counselor for adult learning. With every online training program you look into, talk to the enrollment officer. They can ask a few questions about your work and interests, then recommend online degree programs to you. They’re generally objective, and getting input from different academic institutions will cast your net wider. It could open up possibilities you’d never be exposed to otherwise, and the consultation is free. It can be done on phone, email, or video-chat, so it’s an easy call—pun intended. Another option is to join online discussions or social media groups to gain insights from fellow degree-pursuers. Create a post to ask for suggestions. Mention your niche and which online degree you’re interested in. Some social media groups/online discussions also have pinned resource lists with their own personal recommendations.

As an adult learner, you have more say in what you study, especially if you’re paying your own way. If your degree is work-sponsored, you may have less of a choice. It’s often wise to make your selection based on your current career choice, whether you want to advance in it or switch fields. Consider the length of the online training course, and whether you need to travel to the campus periodically. Some online degrees have face-to-face components, so don’t forget to ask about that. Also, speak to enrollment officers, it’s what they’re there for.

Do you know what your adult learners need to achieve their goals and tackle everyday challenges? Are you looking for ways to keep your adult learners engaged during your eLearning course? Are you meeting the needs of your adult learners by using the correct Instructional Design processes? Are your adult learners pressed for time? Download our free eBook Designing eLearning Courses For Adult Learners: The Complete Guide to find out about the adult learner characteristics, the obstacles they need to overcome, ways to engage and motivate busy adult learners, and some amazing adult learning facts and stats you need to know as an eLearning pro.