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Online Education: How To Know If It's Right For You

Aug 17, 2007
"Online education could be the perfect path to improving your job skills, finishing a degree, or changing careers," says Susan Deane, Author of ONLINE EDUCATION, Is It For You, "especially if you want to improve your lifestyle and income."

The problem is that not all online education is right for everyone and there are important pitfalls and traps to avoid.

As an online education expert, Susan Deane takes the mystery out of deciding how or if to pursue an online course with her simple tips and strategies based on experience as a student, teacher, and now, course developer.

If you're considering online education, first take this easy quiz (and be honest!)

Online education was meant for you if most of these statements describe you-

- I cannot commit to a regular schedule.
- My family and/or work responsibilities make it difficult to attend regular college classes.
- I don't have specific degree prerequisites.
- I'm motivated to succeed.
- I have the determination to complete a course successfully.
- I want to accelerate my degree completion.
- I want to complete courses that are not locally available.
- I sometimes travel for business or pleasure.
- I enjoy communicating using my writing skills.

Still not sure? You might try taking a course to find out! There's very little to lose and LOTS to gain.

When it comes time to select a full online study program, here are some guidelines for avoiding the pitfalls and traps that are out there:

DO:
- Ask around for recommendations. If you don't need an accredited degree, a professional speaker or trainer might be your best online teacher.
- Expect to work for your degree. Online does not mean free ride.
- Be realistic with how many credits you can handle at a time.
- Pick a degree or course that really interests you, especially if self-discipline is not your strong suit.
- Most universities offer some credits for life/work experience and of course you may be able to test out of some required classes. Expect that the experience and skills you have need to be verifiable before you can apply it to a degree program.

AVOID:
- Scams that are sneaky and often copy entire websites of real colleges but delete the contact information. Refer to the directory put out by the Council for Higher Education Accredidation to be sure you have a legitimate degree program. Those few minutes of online search can save you a real headache later.
- Sites that care more about your credit card than your skill level and past education.
- Life-experience only degrees. They may sound easy, but are never legitimate and there are laws being passed that make them illegal to use on certain job applications. (Really, who wants a doctor who has never taken a medical class but watched a lot of reality tv?) Don't expect your experience to save you more than a quarter to a half of your education time and cost.

Fitting your lifestyle:
- If you don't work well alone, find a study buddy. Preferably a co-worker or local friend. They don't have to even be working on the same thing.
- Use your own personal computer. You'll be glad you did.
- Schedule class time and study/homework time. While flexible hours means you pick when, they still need to happen sometime. Portable MP3 players may give you even more flexibility with finding time to listen to recorded lessons.
- Take advantage of study groups, online forums, your professor's email, and local study buddies.

Take the quiz, try these strategies out and you'll easily and confidently enjoy earning the legitimate online degree you want without putting your life and work on hold.
About the Author
Dr. Proactive a.k.a. "Randy Gilbert" had the pleasure of working with Online Education Expert Susan Deane when she was interviewed on The Inside Business Success Show with Jan Schleicher about
Susan's latest book, "Online Education - Is It For You?" Listen to her interview free www.insidesuccessradio.com/Guests/Susan-Deane
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