In recent years, a growing number of non-traditional students over the age of 25 have decided to return to college with the aspiration to advance their careers, increase their skills, or change career paths.
For many adult learners who want to balance full-time work and returning to college, one of the best ways to achieve their educational goals is through online programs. This is because online degree programs offer students the flexibility to study to suit their busy schedules. If you’re also interested in completing your degree online but want a comprehensive understanding before committing to it, here are five things you need to know.
1. Studying online doesn’t mean you’re alone
While taking advantage of the flexible class schedule, you might think that the downside of online learning is the lack of support and interaction. The truth is, online learning has evolved so much over the past decade that just watching lectures on your laptop is no longer enough. Online learning today incorporates a variety of teaching formats allowing you to interact with peers and professors through different digital channels.
For example, while offering courses in an asynchronous format, the University of Michigan-Flint’s Accelerated Online Degree Completion (AODC) program creates an uplifting and collaborative learning community. In addition to online lectures, you can meet with your professors for individual feedback through virtual appointments. Discussion forums and group projects are also integrated into the courses.
In addition to various learning opportunities, many institutions also offer comprehensive academic support for online students. At UM-Flint, we provide a dedicated academic advisor to guide you toward graduation.
2. Online degree programs are as difficult as traditional programs
When considering whether you should get your degree online, one of your concerns might be the quality of online education. You can ask, “Is this going to be too easy?” or “Will I learn anything from the program?”
In fact, most accredited online degree programs from reputable universities are as rigorous as traditional in-person programs. You have the same course content, study material, and grading standard as on-campus students. You will be taught by experienced teachers who also lead in-person programs.
At UM-Flint, our online degree programs challenge students to build skills and knowledge through self-guided learning, proctored exams, online discussions, and other innovative teaching methods.
3. Online learning requires time management skills
Unlike traditional in-person learning where you have to be in a specific location and adhere to a class schedule, asynchronous online programs allow you to control your own pace. You can study on a flexible schedule and at any location, whether it’s 6 a.m. before your regular 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. hours or 10 p.m. at night after you put your kids to bed.
However, with the greater flexibility also comes the challenge of allocating dedicated study time to all your other obligations. You will need to be independent and responsible for your studies. Without strong time management skills, it could be easy to miss assignment due dates or fall behind on your learning goals, which can delay your graduation.
4. Online degrees are respected by employers
When it comes to completing your online degree, you might ask yourself questions such as “Are online degrees respected by employers?” or “Are online degrees worth anything?” In general, as online learning has become so common, employers recognize online degrees. However, it is also true that not all online degree programs are created equal. Those from reputable and accredited institutions are more employer-friendly.
According to US News & World Report, although most employers accept online degrees, accreditation is especially important. Accreditation from a third-party organization can prove that the online study program is approved to meet a satisfactory level of education. Therefore, when choosing an online program, avoid diploma mills and be sure to verify the credential information of the higher education institution.
The University of Michigan-Flint is fully accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), providing cutting-edge education to help our online students earn a degree from the world-renowned University of Michigan.
5. You are eligible for financial assistance
One of the most common reasons people are reluctant to complete their education is financial stress. If this is also a concern for you, the good news is that online students can apply for financial aid including grants, scholarships, and loans. Depending on the institution, the eligibility requirements for financial aid may vary. Some institutions may require you to enroll full-time to receive financial aid.
At the University of Michigan-Flint, our Financial Aid Office is here to help you through the financial aid process. If you are enrolled in our accelerated online degree program, you could be eligible for a generous scholarship of up to $8,000 in the first year!
Learn more about earning an online degree
We hope this article will help you better understand online degree programs. Do you have any other questions about earning your degree online? Want to learn more about UM-Flint’s AODC program? Read our FAQ page or contact us today!