How to Choose the Best Online Degree
Choosing the best online degree for you can be a tough decision. You may be at a career crossroads, asking yourself questions like "Do I need a graduate degree?" or even "What should I do with my life?" The right degree can help you change careers, or it may help you finally get that promotion you've been eyeing.
What is the best online degree for me?
The degree you choose can have a big impact on your life. Before making the leap into an online program, it can be helpful to consider three things: what skills you currently have, what experience you have and what you are looking to gain from the degree.
What skills do you currently have?
Do you have strong communication skills? Are you great at solving problems? Is your patience level exceptionally high? You may think that these details are just part of who you are. But your unique skillset and individual passions can help guide you toward a career path where you'll be successful and fulfilled.
If you are a great problem solver, you may consider selecting a degree within engineering or research. If you are detail-oriented and compassionate, you may consider a career as an educator or nurse.
What experience do you have?
Do you have a background in clinical research and have always wanted more formal training? Have you worked on the family farm since you were young and now that you are taking it over, you want more specific knowledge in plant health management? Your personal experiences are a big part of who you are, and they can guide you toward a career path.
Why do you want this degree?
How will earning this degree help you excel in your nursing, engineering or business career? At Ohio State, we offer various online programs that can help you advance your career. For example, Emily Caudill is changing the future of healthcare for patients through Ohio State’s online Master of Healthcare Innovation program. And, veteran Jesse Glass earned his BSN while working full time, in order to advance his career.
What is the best online college for me?
Next, you need to choose the best online school for you. Once you've chosen the right degree, do some research to see what schools offer your program. Quality and cost are both important, so pay attention to how each school is ranked. U.S. News and World Report ranks the best colleges online each year. In 2020, Ohio State was ranked #1 in the nation for its online bachelor’s programs.
Keep the ABCs of online education in mind to determine the best online college for you:
Make sure whatever online school or program you choose is accredited. What does "accreditation" mean? Accredited schools have been audited by accrediting agencies to ensure that the education provided by the institution and program meets acceptable levels of quality. There are different types of accreditation at the national, regional and the state level. The ultimate goal of accreditation is to protect students and ensure their academic success.
Through the U.S. Department of Education Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs, you’ll be able to search for online program and institution accreditation.
If you are considering an online program that leads to a professional license in a state other than Ohio, it is also important you verify that your program is authorized in your state before enrolling.
Will you be able to balance your schoolwork with other work and family responsibilities? Look closely at the time commitment and pacing of the program. Are you able to commit to the program full time, or would a part-time option be more realistic? Does your schedule allow you to log in to live class sessions each week? Or, do you need a program with asynchronous courses, where you can complete work at your own pace within a certain time frame? Remember that an online degree program is time-consuming, and there is a lot of self-discipline involved no matter what program you choose.
The total cost is an important consideration when choosing a degree program, as well as calculating any financial aid or assistance you are eligible for. There are lots of different options to cover the cost of tuition like grants, scholarships and federal aid. Your workplace may even offer tuition reimbursement.
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