Best Choice Checklist
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Best Choice Checklist
You’ve made up your mind to earn a degree online, but the numerous options are overwhelming. How do you decide which program is the best one for you? Here is a checklist of important considerations.
Suits Your Career Goals
A good place to start is with the clarification of your long-range career goals. Know where you’re headed before investing in a particular degree program. Different institutions and programs have different strengths and areas of specialty. Carefully investigate the courses involved in a particular program to be sure they’ll provide you with the skills you’ll need for your professional future. Compare the courses in a range of similar programs to see how they stack up.
Value to Potential Employers
Never underestimate the power of a few well-chosen informational interviews in advance of deciding on an online degree program. Talking to potential employers in your professional area will provide insight into which schools and programs have the best – and worst – reputations in the workplace.
If a program seems too cheap and easy to be true, chances are it is. Beware of online programs that require very little of the student; they may not be actually accredited, but rather in the business of “selling” degrees. See “About Accreditation” below, to learn the how’s and why’s of checking for accreditation.
Meets Your Personal Needs
Ensure your online degree program will allow you to proceed with life as usual. Does it offer you the freedom to complete coursework in evenings and on weekends, so that you can maintain your job, accommodate your children’s schedules, and fulfill other obligations, if necessary? Are required meeting at convenient times? This may seem like a minor consideration, but flexibility plays a pivotal role in the successful completion of your degree.
Has Top Professors
Any program is only as strong as its teaching staff. All legitimate education institutions post the credentials of their professors in a prominent position on their Web sites. If they don’t, be suspicious. Beyond that, don’t be reluctant to do a little extra searching on your own. Google and sites like RateYourProfessor.com (which must be approached with some skepticism) can provide additional insight into the quality of an instructional experience.
High Graduate Satisfaction
How happy and successful are the degree program graduates? Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, do some research to see what recent graduates have to say. The institution’s Web site may offer contacts, or a Google search may lead you to more informal information about the program.
Strong Student Support
Is the degree program student-centered, rather than teacher-centered? Successful online degree programs should share the same efficiencies as successful businesses, including client-centered practices. Look for; strong technology support; quick answers to course questions; the ability to provide feedback; timely, courteous answers to registration-related questions; and the freedom to contact other students as needed. The program should also be responsive to the needs of students to complete programs quickly and at their own pace, without having to comply to a rigid time structure.
Freedom to learn on your own time and at your own pace remains a central reason to enroll in an online program versus its “brick and mortar” counterpart. Some schools offer more resource and communication availability than others. Positives to look for include: the ability to download lectures, discussions and visual demonstrations; freedom to communicate with professors at any time; access to methods of communication with other students; and updated class information posted on a bulletin board or other class Web-based environment.
Makes Dollar Sense
While keeping costs down is important, be sure to balance the dollar figure with the reputation and quality of the institution and how that will influence your future earning power. The price of an online degree program can range from an estimated $10,000 to $100,000, so considering salient factors, such as flexibility, level of engagement with technology and graduate satisfaction, is key. Also consider whether the institution offers scholarships, reduced tuition or other forms of financial aid.
21st Century Technology
Online degree programs that merely “bolt technology onto” traditional practices are not the kind of cutting-edge instructional methods employers look for in today’s digital workplace. You’ll want a program that not only harnesses the technologies you already use on a daily basis, but also pushes you a bit to learn new applications that will give you a leg up in your career. Web site creation, videoconferencing, working with multimedia, and becoming familiar with Web 2.0 applications such as Google docs that allow students to collaborate are highly desirable elements of an online learning program. It makes sense that technology-savvy degree programs will be more in tune with “real life” workforce needs than those using more traditional approaches.
Concordia University can help you earn your Master’s in Education degree in one year from the comfort of your home. A Master’s degree could mean an automatic salary increase, would open the door to new leadership positions, and can recession-proof your skills!
Master of Education Degrees available in Educational Leadership or Curriculum & Instruction:
C&I Concentrations include Reading, Mathemetics, Science, Inclusion in the Classroom (SPED), English for Speakers of Other Languages, Methods and Curriculum, eLearning/Technology Education, Environmental Education, and Career and Technical Education.
|As digital technologies and the Internet have evolved over the past 30 years, so has online learning. No longer the text-based, isolating experience it was, online learning today translates into freedom, flexibility and economy.|
|Thinking about getting an online degree, but don’t know which is the right one for you? Not all online school offerings are alike, and before you make that commitment, you’ll need to make sure that the time and effort you put into your degree or certification will “count.”|
|Many new students find themselves unprepared — the concept of instant, online learning can be deceiving. Although you can often make your own hours, you still need to do some planning ahead. A Master’s in Education program is still an intensive experience, one that requires you bring your organizational skills to the table, even if that table is in your dining room.|
|This content was brought to you by Concordia University Online – offering a one year path to your Master’s in Education degree online!|