For many adults, finding the time to earn a bachelor’s degree can be a challenge. Work obligations, family responsibilities, and financial concerns all complicate the path toward earning a bachelor’s degree. Designed specifically for those who want a flexible and affordable path towards career advancement, online undergraduate programs can be a perfect fit to help you finish what you started and advance your career.
Finding the Right Program
If you plan on completing your bachelor’s degree online, it’s important to find a program that fits your needs. Here are some helpful hints to get started:
A college education is an opportunity to build an intellectual foundation for the rest of your professional life. What kind of job would you like to have when you graduate? In five years? Paint yourself a detailed picture of your ideal career and then think about the kind of education you’ll need to get you there. Once you know where you want to go, you can find a degree program that will meet your specific needs.
It might be tempting to apply to the first degree program you see. But don’t do it. There are plenty of excellent schools out there, and it’s important to be informed when making such an important decision.
Ask yourself and the university lots of questions. Does this school have a program that meets my career goals? Do its values as an institution resonate with mine? Will my past college credits transfer? How much is tuition? Can I afford it? Will this school give me the best value on my education? Does this school offer classes that are truly flexible to my scheduling needs? Don’t be afraid to take your time gathering information. If you can, talk to the school’s enrollment counselors to get a deeper look at what it means to be a student at their institution.
It might seem odd for an online degree program to require its students to obtain real-world training. However, these types of learning experiences are invaluable, especially if you work in a field like nursing, business, social work, or education. They can help you translate theory into practice and even help you network your way to a job beyond graduation. Seek information about internships, employer partners, or ways that the school will allow you to gain college credit at your current place of employment.
Before you apply, make sure you have access to all of your official transcripts. Transcripts come from every college in which you took courses. Some schools require high school transcripts as well. Some courses will be from different universities, military training, or other programs.
Make sure to follow the school’s instructions on how to properly submit documents. Once you do this, you’ll be in a position to understand a crucial element of the process: understanding how your credits will transfer.
Transferring Credits: A Note
Completing your bachelor’s degree online in a timely and affordable manner can all come down to the successful transfer of past academic credits. When you have fewer courses to finish, it translates into faster degree completion and fewer tuition dollars.
Transfer credits can come from many places. Perhaps you’ve just taken a few college courses but had to drop out. Or maybe you earned an associate degree and want to pursue a four-year program. Some schools allow you to apply academic credit from your time in the U.S. military or from certain work or life experiences. Whatever your story, it’s important to take full stock of potential sources of academic credit and work with an enrollment counselor at your potential school to see what your academic journey might look like.
Affording Your Degree
Paying to complete your bachelor’s degree online is another daunting aspect. But it doesn’t have to be. Luckily, there are plenty of ways for you to attend school without breaking the bank.
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a key component to obtaining financial aid. Filing a FAFSA determines your eligibility for grants, loans, and other forms of financial aid that might help you afford your degree. FAFSA is accepted everywhere and is often crucial for obtaining aid from individual schools and colleges. Everyone should complete a FAFSA, even if they assume they earn too much money to be eligible for aid.
Outside sources of aid are also a great way to afford your bachelor’s degree. These can come from anywhere. Scholarships, grants, and other financial assistance may be available through private companies, state funds, religious groups, or professional organizations. If you’re an active or retired U.S. military service member, your military affiliation can help, too.
Perhaps one of the best things about earning your degree online is the flexibility it provides when it comes to work. Because of their flexibility, online degree programs allow you to work, giving you the chance to earn money while finishing your degree.
Tips for Completing Your Degree
It’s one thing to have a plan. It’s another to put that plan into action. The nitty-gritty of completing your bachelor’s degree online can be confusing, but it doesn’t have to be.
Reaching any big goal requires a team. Although you are the student, your family, friends, and loved ones will be a big part of your success. Make sure to ask for help. Build a study group, ask someone to watch your kids, and make it known to your team how important it is for you to succeed. People who care about you will want you to succeed, and they’ll be your biggest fans when things get rough.
Think long and hard about the amount of school work you can reasonably take on. If you work full time and have other commitments, it’s unrealistic to assume you’ll be able to finish your degree as fast as someone without those obligations. If a certain class is giving you difficulty, change your pace of study or find a tutor. Make sure to build the time and space you need to move through your course list at a pace that works for you.
The role of an academic adviser is to help you finish school. They are an invaluable resource for helping you on your path to graduation. From understanding what grades you need to earn to managing classes from semester to semester, an adviser’s goal is to make sure students like you succeed. Remember, they’ve likely helped other students facing a similar academic or life situation. Reach out frequently to stay on track.
Research about your school doesn’t stop once you’re accepted. This is your education. You deserve to understand what’s going on every step of the way.
Ask questions about the expectations of being a student at your school, as well as those of every course you take. Are courses synchronous or asynchronous? How often will you be expected to participate in discussions? What are the instructor’s online office hours? Where can you go for help if you’re academically struggling? Continuing to clarify expectations will improve your chances of meeting them every step of the way.
Finishing What You Started
Once you decide you’re ready to complete your bachelor’s degree, there’s no shortage of opportunities available to you. Online degree programs offer a quality, affordable, and flexible way to increase your earning potential and advance your career. With hard work and dedication, your professional dreams can become a reality.