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Is an Online Degree Right for You? Ask Yourself These 5 Questions.

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Thanks in large part to the recession, the distance learning world is booming. Many job seekers are deciding to wait out the recession in the classroom — virtual classroom, that is. And even those with secure jobs are buttressing their resumes with advanced degrees or certifications that they can earn online. The number of distance learners has climbed exponentially over the past several years, with more than 5 million Americans currently estimated to be taking at least one online class.

Are you thinking about pursuing a degree online? Distance learning is increasingly viewed as equally reputable with studying at a brick-and-mortar school. Even still, studying online still isn’t for everyone. How do you know if elearning is right for you? Start by answering these five questions.

1) Are you currently employed and/or parenting full-time?
Online learners are master multi-taskers. Most e-students work full-time and many are also moms or dads. In fact, one of the major pluses of pursuing an online degree is that you can still work full-time while doing it.

2) Do you want or need to take breaks in your learning schedule?
Traditional colleges try to get their students in and out in five years or less. Masters degrees are typically completed in 18-24 months. Online degrees, however, are better suited to those students who need to take some breaks in their learning schedule. If you think you will need to start and stop a few times before you finish your degree, an online school could be a good choice for you. You will likely find that breaks are more common and less distracting from your overall educational success that at a traditional school.

3) How do you learn best?
To be a good online learner, you will need strong visual learning skills. If you learn better by hearing (auditory) or doing (kinesthetic), you may struggle in an online situation. Look for classes in which professors stream their lectures or that require a field study component.

4) Are you self-motivated?
At traditional schools, students interact not only with their professors, but with other students, all the time. Whether through group projects or just group discussion, that interaction is key for keeping some students motivated. On the other hand, if you are highly self-motivated, you will do well in an online environment.

5) Are you tech savvy?
You don’t need to be the next Bill Gates to be a successful distance learning, but you do need a desktop or laptop computer with high speed Internet access. Some classes will also require you to purchase or download special programs to interact with other class members.

How did you know online learning was right for you?

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