Thousands of people make the decision to “return” to school by attending an online college or university each year. They understand that by taking this action they are making a positive decision about their future and opening up a vast amount of professional and personal potential for themselves.
There are several factors to consider before performing an online college search and selecting a school however. These items involve a bit of self-examination and will really help a prospective student to determine when they are ready to begin:
• Goal setting – the student has some clear cut goals in mind that require them to further their education. This can mean they want to increase their earning potential, open doors to new job opportunities, increase their knowledge in their own profession, or find an entirely new one. Students without clear cut goals could end up wasting time or money in classes that they don’t need to take. Setting goals down on paper is an excellent way to analyze the purpose and intention of the college education.
• Support network – any student will need support from family, friends and their own employer if they are to succeed with their academic ambitions. It is best to have an open dialogue with everyone the decision of returning to school will impact. Realistic expectations for everyone involved can eliminate or at least limit the amount of frustration or disruption the change in scheduling may create.
• Time – many returning students do not accurately anticipate the number of hours their college work will require. Beginning an online college search makes some people believe that their studies and work will take only a minimal amount of time each day, when in fact a full course load requires hours of study time. It is best to be realistic and convey this to those whose schedules may be affected by the time commitment to school.
• Visualization – any student needs to ask themselves where they see themselves in the next five years. This is a good way to gauge exactly how a student plans to put their hard work to good use. Will the degree advance them in their career? Do they hope to see a whole new lifestyle come from their hard work? Will it give them a whole new set of skills and knowledge that will greatly expand their horizons? These are all realistic goals for an individual returning to school
A final factor for someone doing an online college search is to consider honestly their own academic abilities. They should ask themselves if they will realistically be able to handle a full course load to begin with, or should they “test the waters” by taking only a part-time load. If someone is out of school or the “study habit” for many years it can be difficult to get back into the “groove”. It may be a good idea to perform an online college search for schools that let students transition or vary from part time to full time each semester.