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Why Choose an Online College

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When my college mentor sent me a list of scholarships that were available to me, I saw this invitation for a $2000 scholarship offered by InternetProviders.com:

Sometimes we forget that above all, the Internet is a tool. And no one can benefit from it more than students – and we want you to prove it.

 We’re offering a scholarship to help further your education if you can submit a blog post that is interesting, well thought out, and above all, proves to us that you’re using the Internet to help shape your future.

I knew I had to apply because:

  1. I am currently in college online (and so is my husband!)
  2. I blog
  3. I would like $2000 for college tuition

 So, while I am using this blog post to apply for a college scholarship, the words and thoughts are all mine and all true.  So here it goes:

When the company that I worked for shut its doors, I found myself unemployed.  I quickly learned that it was not going to be easy to find a new job. Honestly, I found just one thing holding me back:  Even though I had an Associate’s degree in Accounting, plus 20 years of experience, potential employers were looking for a Bachelor’s degree.

In order to receive my Associate’s Degree, I had gone back to a traditional brick and mortar community college almost 10-years after graduating high school.  I worked full-time and went to school four nights a week for 3-4 hours a night. When I finished college, I was newly married and newly pregnant.  I had no intentions of going back to college to complete my Bachelor’s degree, in fact, I was “never, ever, doing that again!”  Well, you know that they say, “Never, say ‘Never’!”

When I first started working in my field, the company that hired me was looking for experience (which I had) more than a degree.  Today, with so many companies down-sizing and shutting their doors, there is just too much competition out there for available positions.  Businesses are looking for people who have invested themselves in their own future, with the mindset that they will be willing to invest in their employer’s future as well.

After a few months of fruitless job-searching, I came to the resolution that I was going to need to go back to school and earn my Bachelor’s Degree.  My husband was already in school online at Indiana Wesleyan University, but after doing some research, I decided that I would apply at Western Governors University.  It turned out that they transferred most of my Associates Degree, so I did not need to redo those requirements.  Being in college full time with a husband and two children is not a perfect scenario, but doing college online really makes it work pretty well!

So, having said all that, here is what is great about online college:

  • You can work around your work schedule
  • You can work online while the kids are playing or sleeping
  • You save money on gas
  • You can save money if you have the option to use online text books
  • You can literally go to school in your pajamas
  • You can contact your professors or mentors whenever you have questions or need encouragement
  • You might find that college tuition is cheaper (though this is not the case for all online colleges) than traditional colleges

I must admit, going to school online may not be right for everyone, it can have some disadvantages as well:

  • You are reliant on the Internet, if the power goes out and you have a big assignment due, you might be scrambling to find the nearest Starbucks
  • You might have issues with sticking with it if you cannot be structured (more on this later, my online college actually works well for me because of my lack of structure)
  • You might have a hard time learning if you are more of a hands-on or visual learner
  • You might miss the social aspects of a brick and mortar college if you are very people-oriented
  • You might come to realize that online college might actually be more work due to the number of papers or discussion posts you will need to submit, but this varies by college
  • You will find that not all online colleges are equal, you will need to do your research to find one that is affordable, relevant, and I hate to say it:  Real

As I list these advantages and disadvantages, I see a trend.  The advantages are more concrete, while the disadvantages are really just things you need to work around or get used to.  Overall, if you can stay on track and stick to the task, online college should work well for you.

As I said earlier, my husband and I both made different decisions regarding our online college choices.  Our decisions, it turned out, were good fits for each of our personalities.  He is very timely and task oriented.  His college requires regular discussion posts and papers requiring research for each class, which translates into daily/weekly tasks.  I am very much a “do-my-best-work-with-a-deadline” kind of a girl.  My college is focused on either one objective assessment (final test) or one performance assessment (one large paper or some sort of presentation) per class.  The grade structure for mine is pass/fail, while his is more traditional.

Overall, online college is a great choice for most people.  This is especially true if you need to work around career and family.  The important thing is to do your research first, know your personality and find out what college is the best fit for you.

What are your thoughts about college online?

What do YOU think?

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