The Benefits of Online Education: Can It Fire Up Your Career?
There’s a bewildering number of online courses offered on almost on every subject under the sun. And some of them are actually good for your career advancement!
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that taking online classes has become a strong contender for one of the most popular methods of continuing your education and learning new skills. While at least 28 percent of students are enrolled in an online course at a degree-granting institution, there are many other options for quick and affordable learning that aren’t part of a degree program. Sites like Coursera and Udemy, for example, are great for learning skills online.
I earned my college degree a few years ago and have taken several online courses since then to improve my skills and advance my career. If I’m not mistaken, the cheaper online classes I’ve taken have contributed more toward increasing my income over the years than my college degree.
I’m currently taking yet another online class for a certification that I hope will allow me to increase my income by offering a new service in my field.
The course costs $300, but I hope to earn back that investment several times over within the next year.
Think a digital course will help boost your career, too? Here are a few things you should consider to make sure that online classes are worth it for your:
It’s All Up to You
It’s important to realize that taking an online course often means that you’re doing the majority of your learning independently. While you may interact with other students or even the instructor, you are the main person responsible for “showing up” to learn and for properly processing the information you receive.
Once you pay for the course, no one is there to check your attendance or make sure that you’re doing your homework. Instead, you must be highly self-motivated and be able to adapt well to learning independently. If you can, you may want to team up with another student for accountability to increase your chances of success.
Are Online Classes Worth It?
As with any type of educational investment, you hope to gain some type of return in the end. For online courses, you can do this by setting clear goals. Do you hope to gain a new skill so that you can break into a new career field? Are you looking to advance your experience and credentials so that you can leverage a higher salary?
Digital courses have become very trendy these days, but it’s crucial that you stay focused on your end goal. You should answer the questions above and create a clear action plan before you invest in an online course.
Even if you take a free or cheap online course, realize that you’re investing time and effort into learning the new material, and you’ll want to cash in on it someday.
How to Spot Scams
Nowadays, anyone can hop online and create a digital course or claim that they’re a part of a prestigious institution and can help you to do x, y, and z.
It’s important to do your research before you sign up to make sure that you’re not wasting your money. If you hope to earn a certification or degree, check that the course is offered by an accredited institution.
If you’re just looking to gain new skills, make sure that the person teaching or selling the class is experienced and has a proven track record. Read through the course syllabus, FAQs, and the return policy, along with credible reviews from past students.
If anyone promises that you can earn lots of money while doing hardly any work, their course is likely a scam. If you’re trying to earn a degree or certificate, the U.S. Department of Education provides a database of accredited programs that you can check out.
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The Pros and Cons of Online Classes
At the end of the day, you want to sum up the pros and cons to find out if online education is right for you. Personally, I love online courses because in today’s digital age, we’re learning new things online all the time. Plus, it’s a great option for parents and other learners with busy schedules. Here are a few of the key pros and cons:
Benefits of Online Education
- It’s flexible. You can work the course around your schedule and other responsibilities.
- You don’t have to commute to class.
- It’s cheaper than most degree-granting and continuing-education programs at universities, trade schools, and community colleges.
- You can find a wider variety of courses and programs available to meet your needs.
Challenges of Online Education
- There’s very little social interaction. Online courses may not be the best solution if you thrive in a group-learning environment.
- They may not be considered “legitimate” if you’re looking to transfer credits for a degree program.
- Financial aid may not be available (though you may not even need it if the course is free or affordable).
Carefully weigh the pros and cons of online classes to determine if taking one will be right for you. Do your research and compare different programs based on your current needs and preferences, along with your goals for the future.