With so many programs available, how do you choose the right online college degree? Here are a few tips to help you pick the perfect major:
Step 1: Think About the Subjects You Liked in High School.
What interested you in high school definitely can give you a clue as to what will interest you in college. Make three lists of your high school classes – topics that bored you to tears, topics you absolutely loved, and topics that you were curious about, but didn’t like the teacher or didn’t get to explore. Anything you found boring can be crossed off right away, but the other two lists can narrow down your program choices.
It’s important to remember that choosing a major is a process. It takes time and careful consideration. But choosing a major is not the same as choosing a career. Many areas of study overlap and offer similar content so you don’t have to major in pre-law to be attorney. You can major in political science, English, and humanities, among others.
Step 2: Think About Your Hobbies.
Next, make a list of hobbies you enjoy – stuff you like to do even if you aren’t getting paid for it. You might see some patterns emerging here. For example, if you like to paint, you also probably liked art classes in high school and a major like art or art history might be right for you.
There are many different types of degree programs and areas of study to choose from. If you’re still not sure what you want to major in, consider meeting with an academic adviser to discuss your options. Some schools allow students to select a major after a year of study. This provides ample time to research your options before making a decision.
Step 3: Do Some Career Research.
Just because you love art doesn’t mean it will make a good career. Do a little career research to find out what kinds of careers are available relating to fields you enjoy. For example, if you enjoy writing but don’t like the thought of a difficult freelancing career after you graduate, maybe a better choice would be to major in communications. You’ll still have the writing aspect, but you’ll also be able to expand your job search into areas like marketing and advertising.
If you plan to work for a year before enrolling in a program, consider finding a position in a field you’re interested in. This way you gain experience before working towards your degree.
Step 4: Compare Program Lengths.
How long do you want to be in school? In many fields, you can get started with just an associate’s degree or even certificate, but you can also continue attending classes online to some day earn a doctorate in your field. For example, if you like biology, working in the medical field might be right for you. You can enter the industry quickly with a one-year education to become an LPN or you can get a PhD in nursing, which takes more time.
If you want to earn your bachelor’s degree online, you can expect it to take about three or four years to complete. Graduate-level programs often take about two or three years to complete, sometimes less, depending on the program. Doctoral programs vary in length. Some programs can take as long as ten years to complete while others take only four or five.
Step 5: Scrutinize The School Before You Commit.
Now that you’ve found a school with a program that you think will work best for you, there are a few things to look for in the school itself.
- Accreditation. Nothing is more important in your decision to attend a school than knowing it is regionally accredited. Accreditation means that the school is recognized as a legitimate institution and is not just a degree-mill. If you think you may consider transferring credits from an online university to a traditional one, this will not be possible with an unaccredited school. Additionally, employers will look at a degree from an accredited school with more respect.
- Technical Support. How interested is the school in you as a student? Are they able to help you when you’re having issues? Knowing that the school will always be there for you when you are having technical difficulties is an indicator of how much they care about your education. You don’t want to risk throwing all of your money away based on faulty Internet connections.
- Financial Aid. While online universities are generally less expensive than traditional colleges, you still may find that you need help financially. Don’t assume student loans and decades of debt is inevitable; see what the school can do to help you. Likewise, remember that high price does not necessarily guarantee high quality. Look at the courses you will likely be taking and consider how they will help you in your future career.
- Read student reviews. Do a search online for what students are saying about your particular degree program. What do they like or not like about it? Has a former student discussed their post-graduation employment opportunities? This is another way to find out more on the above three bullet points as well.
This article was originally published on www.top5onlinecolleges.org. Read the original article.