Over 8 Million Students Are Learning Online
If you’re thinking about getting an online degree, you’re certainly not alone. According to statistics released by the Online Learning Consortium, 8.1 million students are learning online this year. Online learners can complete their coursework from the comfort of their homes. They’re not required to attend class at a particular time, and they can fit their schoolwork around their busy schedules. Whether you’re a high school student, a college student, or a lifelong learner, there are online learning opportunities that are perfect for you.
Online High School Classes
Do you wish you could ditch high school cliques and just get your diploma? Some universities are now offering high school classes online. Stanford University, for example, started its Online High School in 2009. OHS is now offered to students in grades 7 through 12.
Students get a high quality education, but they’re not just confined to the online classroom. OHS students participate in regional meetups, in which they interact with other OHS students in their geographic areas. They also visit Stanford for a summer residential program, and they gather together for Graduation Weekend.
Admission to OHS is competitive — it’s Stanford, after all. However, Stanford isn’t the only university that offers online high school classes. Online high school courses aren’t just for teenagers, either. Many adults who are returning for their GEDs appreciate the flexibility of online learning.
Online University Courses
Online college courses can let you get your degree while juggling your job, your hobbies, and your family schedule. Some students earn their bachelor’s degrees online, and many students who already have careers return to complete online graduate degrees. For example, someone with an undergraduate degree who wanted to break into the healthcare profession might return for a Master of Public Health or another advanced health care related degree.
The advantages of online college classes are similar to the advantages for online high school classes. However, not all online universities are created equal, and some have negative reputations. To get the most from your online degree program, take these precautions:
1. Choose a respected school. Instead of choosing a for-profit online university that you’ve never heard of, get your online education from a university that already has an established name.
2. Check for accreditation. Not all online universities, particularly non-established and for-profit schools, offer accredited degrees. If you get your degree from a school that doesn’t have accreditation, employers might not hire you, and you might not be able to get certain professional licenses.
3. Look for interaction. Not all professors do a good job of encouraging interaction in online classrooms. Before you enroll in an online degree program, talk to some of the other students about whether they get the chance to interact with other students in online classes. If they just submit assignments without interacting with the other students, they’re missing out on some crucial professional networking opportunities.
Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)
MOOCs are online courses offered by universities or through for-profit companies. Although “massive” is a relative term, most of these courses have huge numbers of enrolled students. You get access to great information, meet interesting teachers, and collaborate with likeminded students. Best of all, MOOCs are free.
If you’re getting a degree in one field, but you want to learn something that isn’t offered at your school, you can sign up for a MOOC. For example, if you’ve earned a Master of Public Health degree at one school, you could sign up for a MOOC called “An Introduction to Global Health” offered by another university. The MOOC would give you a chance to connect with other people who have an interest in global healthcare. You gain new skills, meet new people, and breathe new life into your career.
Most MOOCs don’t offer college credit, so they won’t earn you credentials that you might need for a job. However, they can expand your skillset, and they can help you expand your professional network. MOOCs don’t have a high completion rate; people start them but fail to finish them. Typically, the people who get the most from the courses participate in out-of-class discussions and forums.
A World of Online Learning
The Web is changing the way people earn an education. Online high school classes, university courses, and MOOCs are just a few ways that today’s students are learning online.
Students studying in front of computer image by University of Salford Press Office from Flickr Creative Commons