It’s much more common today than it was even a few years ago, and that’s because online education has swept away its criticism and opposition with a swoop. It has risen so high and achieved such great popularity that more and more people are taking to it than ever before. It’s a great way to earn your graduate degree after you’ve spent a few years in the professional world because you don’t have to take time off work and suffer a loss of pay when you decide to go back to school; however, you must watch your step and be wary of the pitfalls that exist before you choose the first school and degree you find. In general, the traps to avoid when choosing an online master’s program include:
1. Enrolling in a college that is not properly accredited – and by proper, I mean that it has to be regionally accredited or provided credibility by the Distance Education Training Council (DETC).
2. Choosing an online college that has a dubious reputation – set your sights high and aim for the best in the business; this is the best way to get around the prejudice that precedes and hovers around online degrees.
3. Applying for and studying a degree that is not going to be accepted by your employer, current or potential, especially if you’re going back to school to further your career.
4. Choosing the wrong course – a master’s degree is worth the time, effort and money only if it helps you achieve what you want from it; a promotion, a raise, a new job, a change of careers, or just personal satisfaction.
5. Choosing a school that provides credits which are not going to be accepted at other schools – this is why you must choose schools that are regionally accredited because not many of them accept credits from colleges that are accredited by the DETC.
6. Applying for a degree without knowing its prerequisites – check to see what GPA the school requires and if they need your GRE or MAT scores as well.
7. Assuming that your MAT or GRE scores are still valid – most schools don’t accept scores that are more than five years old, and if that is the case with you, you may have to take the exam again.
8. Enrolling for a course without being aware of its requirements – some programs demand that you spend some time on campus, so if you choose a school that’s far away from where you live, you’re going to find it very difficult to attend these face-to-face classes. Besides the inconvenience, it’s also going to set you back by many an extra dollar.
9. Failing to check out the course you plan to study – the curriculum and the staff who teach it make a big difference in the knowledge and skills you gain. Research the school’s learning management system software and make enquiries about the kind of interaction you share with your teachers and the online resources you would be allowed access to. Unless your school and course provide a strong student support system, your degree is not worth it.
10. Paying more than you need to for your degree – ask if your employer is willing to sponsor your education as a way to improve your organization’s resources, and if that does not work out, look for scholarships and grants. Don’t just assume that you’re not eligible and so end up paying a huge interest on a loan or using your savings to fund your education.
Before you enroll in an online master’s program, double check to see that you don’t make mistakes that could come back to haunt you.