So, you’ve decided to go to college. Good for you! Whether you’re studying online or in a traditional classroom setting, you need to first decide what you want to do with your education. Why do you want to get a college degree? Are you trying to start a new career or advance in your current career? What is your ultimate goal?
Once you’ve determined your motivation to get a degree, figure out how much time you’re going to have to spend on it. Class work will take about 20 hours a week – can you afford this time commitment? Are you disciplined enough to commit to two or four years of study, depending upon the degree you’ve chosen?
If you’re short on time, you might want to consider online study, which usually involves working at your own pace. Sometimes you can skip the general education classes altogether when studying online. If you aren’t clear on your major, you can always start out in General Studies or Liberal Arts, take a few classes, then narrow your focus.
Your major should be based on what you have a passion about. What are you interested in? What are you good at? There are many online tests that can help you discover what major fits your personality best. These match up your character traits with possible career opportunities to help you decide on a major for your degree study.
Now that you’ve determined your major, or have decided to go the general studies route, how do you choose a school? Think about your situation. Do you want to commute to a nearby college, or would you rather relocate and move closer to your chosen brick-and-mortar school? Are you interested in the “college experience” of living on campus, or do you have a busy life already and prefer to take classes online? If you already have a job, a family, and/or a career, online might be the best option to begin your studies. It is a much more flexible and convenient way for students with other time commitments to get a college education, yet distance learning still provides a quality, varied education.
Finally, determine the costs of your chosen school. How are you going to afford tuition, books, and other necessary equipment? Will you need to apply for student loans or grants? If you figure out all of the financial expectations up front, you won’t be surprised by costs later when you’re well into your studies.