You’ve decided to go back to school, and you think an online degree is the right choice for you. Money might be a motivating factor, or maybe you just want to switch fields to something more challenging and exciting. The good news is that, thanks to the more than 6.3 million Americans enrolled in online classes, online degree program options seem to expand by the day. There are few fields of study not represented by at least one online degree program.
But it is possible to choose the wrong program for you. Which is why it’s important to spend time weighing your options and choosing the right path. You don’t want to waste time or tuition money starting one online degree program only to switch to a new one a semester later.
How should you decide which program is right for you? There are several factors to consider, and that may mean taking a long look at your current work and financial situation to determine the best degree program you should choose.
Salary isn’t everything.
If you’re like most people, you’re going to google average pay for any field you’re considering entering. And we get it! You’re only human and you want to make sure you can keep paying your Netflix bill. So the salary range in a future field is very much worth taking into account when you’re deciding on a new career path. But money isn’t everything. It’s important to choose a career path that both interests you, and is accessible in your current situation.
Some degree programs are online, but may require in-person residencies or internships for either graduation or professional certificates. That may mean you won’t be able to work your current job when you reach that point in your education. This is an important thing to consider when choosing a program.
Can you handle the classes?
Another thing to consider is aptitude. Maybe you would love to become an engineer but you’ve always struggled with math. Nothing should ever stop you from pursuing your dreams, but if you find yourself in a position where you’re not able to achieve the grades you need to stay in your program, that can become a problem. Especially if you need to repeat classes to try to improve grades. You can end up spending way more time, and way more tuition money than you originally imagined. It’s important to consider your ability to complete the kinds of classes necessary for your program.
That doesn’t mean you should give up on getting a degree, just that you should perhaps consider a different field where the classes suit your strengths as a student. Or, maybe there’s a career closely related to your first choice with a less strenuous course load. Obviously you know your passions and abilities better than we do, but you owe it to yourself to honestly asses your ability to complete a program you start.