Earn a Degree Online Colleges to Support Your Career Goals

How Does Online College Work?

If you’re wondering how online college works, you’re not alone! Enrolling in an online course or degree program can seem scary if you’ve never done it before. But have no fear! Learning online may be a flexible way for you to enhance your education, while continuing to work and fulfill your personal obligations. It’s just a matter of getting started. To help you familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of attending online college, we’ve compiled some questions and answers about the process from enrollment through graduation.

How do I enroll in online college?

The enrollment process will vary, depending on the online college you choose - but the process is much like applying to a traditional college! The first step is generally reaching out the admissions department to request information. In some cases, this may require that your fill out a brief form that covers areas of your background like education or work history. Once you’ve made a request for information, you’ll likely be contacted by an enrollment services representative who may walk you through the admissions process (including requirements) and let you know the next steps.

Once you’ve been accepted by the online college, you’ll likely need to login to their online registration system before the official deadline to register and pay for your courses. You may also be set up with an advisor who can help walk you through the registration process and choose courses that align with your educational goals. If you don’t have an advisor, be sure to reach out to your school with any questions or concerns.

What online colleges give you a laptop?

There are typically three ways a university will provide a laptop to students. Some schools add an additional fee to your tuition to cover the cost of the laptop. Others allow you to borrow a laptop that must be returned upon graduation. Last, some schools work with partners to provide discounts for a laptop. The following schools have a laptop program:

  • Full Sail University
  • Stevens-Henager College
  • Northwest Missouri State University
  • St. John's University
  • College America
  • Bethel University
  • Independence University
  • Southern Nazarene University

What are some study tips for online college?

So you’re ready to start your online courses. The question is what can you do to help yourself be more successful? One of the most difficult parts of earning your degree online is often staying positive and motivated. At the end of the day, it’s really important to remember why you’re enhancing your education and pursuing your goals. Accept that you’re going to have some off-days, and don’t let them take the wind out of your sails! Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. Reach out to your professor early. Introduce yourself by email during the first week of class and let them know if you have any questions or areas of concern. Remember, your professor is there to help—even if it’s not in person! Reaching out also lets instructors know that you’re committed and enthusiastic about your studies.
  2. Make sure you have a study space. You need a place to work that is quiet, comfortable, distraction-free, and has a very reliable Internet connection. While you’re at it, turn off your phone—and create a “Do not disturb” sign!
  3. Create a study plan. Take some time to go through your online syllabus and enter all major assignments, quizzes, and exams into your calendar (whether that’s Google calendar or an actual calendar, do what works for you). Then at the beginning of each week, make prioritized to-do lists to keep you on track and help manage your time. Once you have your schedule created, stick to it! Procrastination can be a killer when it comes to online classes, so you need to keep on top of things.
  4. Give yourself a break. A study break, that is! When you’re studying online it’s easy to over-work yourself without realizing it. In order to be productive and avoid getting tired—or frustrated—it’s important that you schedule regular breaks in your study sessions. Take a walk, grab a snack, or go take a quick coffee break to help you recharge!
  5. Engage with your fellow classmates. We don’t just mean when you’re required to take part in online discussions—although that’s very important. Just because you’re not physically in the classroom doesn’t mean you can’t engage in friendly conversation and get to know your fellow students. You can also share study tips and help each other out with the coursework!

How do I prepare for online classes?

So you’re ready to get exploring, but wondering what you should look for. Although online courses are similar to traditional courses, the way that the material is delivered is obviously quite different. Think video lectures and slide show presentations rather than classroom lectures and hand-outs.

Below are some of the areas you may want to explore in your school’s learning management system:

  • Navigation menus: Check out all the links, pages, and tabs so you know exactly where everything is and how to easily access what you need.
  • Communication tools: Familiarize yourself with messaging and discussion board features so that you know how to contact your instructor and communicate in real-time with fellow students.
  • Uploading and downloading: It’s important to find out how you submit documents like projects or assignments—and how to download the course materials you’ll need along the way.
  • Multimedia formats: Explore the different formats for course materials (videos, slide shows, audio, Prezis, etc.) and make sure that you have all of the necessary software required. If you don’t, get downloading!

What are the main components of online courses?

You’ll have your online syllabus, which is a course guide that gives you details like learning objectives, assignments, required texts, and information on your instructor. Some courses may also have rubrics, which give you more detailed, specific guidelines for term papers, essays, or other projects. Then, of course, your grades, where you view comments from your instructor and get your grades from assignments and tests and online.

Let's not forget study materials. That may include presentations such as: video, slides, podcasts, audio recordings, and more. There are many activities that you may need to do including things like:

  • Participating in class discussions through a discussion board
  • Reading textbooks or articles
  • Writing essays and papers and other assignments
  • Preparing presentations
  • Completing weekly quizzes
  • Taking mid-terms and final exams

How do I participate?

Online courses tend to work in one of two ways when it comes to communication and interaction: synchronously and asynchronously. With synchronous courses, you are required to engage with fellow classmates, interact with your instructor, and complete coursework on a regular ongoing basis.

With asynchronous courses, you may need to schedule completing your coursework on your own time, which is great for flexibility but requires a lot of organization on your part. In some cases, online courses may include a mixture of synchronous and asynchronous requirements.

What happens when I graduate?

Depending on the online college you graduate from, you may be invited to participate in a commencement ceremony, where you receive a diploma, although you may need to travel to do so. Many students wonder whether their diploma will say “online” and that’s something you’ll need to inquire about to your prospective colleges before you enroll.

When it comes to going out into the working world and trying to attract employers, according to the Society for Human Resources Management’s survey of a sampling of its members, 79% of organizations polled said they had hired an applicant with an online degree in the last year. However, you can’t rely on statistics to get you work. You’ll need to do a lot of research, commit to networking, and highlight your skills and knowledge as you get out there and pursue your dream job.

Whether you're just starting out in your career or thinking about making a career change, here are some questions--and answers--you may want to consider if you are thinking about pursuing an online degree to help you achieve your goals. 

Can Online College help me Earn My Degree?


Is an Online College Right for Me?

Online colleges must be doing something that students like! In fact, in a 2015 study of student preferences, only 39% of online students were interested in studying in a classroom if the option was made available[i].  That puts the brick-and-mortar college in the minority, so what’s the big draw to attending classes online? For one thing, choosing to earn a degree online means that you may have more options when it comes to courses and programs—because you’re not limited to colleges or universities in or around your area. And studying from the comfort of home sounds pretty amazing, right? The flexibility and convenience that online colleges can provide may definitely be a big plus for working students, and working moms in particular. You want to make sure that you’ll be able to balance your studies with your work and family responsibilities—and online learning may help you do just that.


Assess Your Natural Talents, Skills, and Interests

What field is ideal for me? This is a very important consideration. Pursuing a career that’s perfect for you requires that you know yourself well and can answer some real questions. What are you good at? What inspires you? How do you like to spend your time? Obviously, not every job is going to be fun or otherwise people would do it for free. But you’re more likely to be happy or satisfied in a career that makes use of your natural strengths, skills, and passions. You’ll also want to consider which career path best suits your personality, ambitions, and lifestyle. That could mean considering occupational factors like: salary potential--including benefits, work-life balance, your work style. The good news is that studying at an online college may help you narrow down which field is best-suited for you, in a way that’s both convenient and flexible with your personal schedule.

Explore Options That Fit Your Personality & Goals

What are my learning options? It’s important to keep in mind that you don’t need to commit to a 100% online degree program. If you’re unsure whether online learning will work for you—and your lifestyle—why not start off by enrolling in a few courses at an online college to see if it’s a good fit? Or if you’re not ready to commit to the tuition costs, you could explore massive open online courses (MOOCs), which are generally free and a great way to dip your toes into the online learning pool. Hybrid degree programs that combine studying on campus as well as online may also be a great way to experience the best of both worlds when it comes to education—so do some exploring!  


Explore Online Colleges As a First Step Towards Your New Career!

What’s my plan of action? You’ve asked yourself all the right questions, and you’ve whittled down your options to a career path that sounds perfect for you. Now it’s time to devise a plan of action to help you achieve your goals. It’s important to make sure you take into account what you’re looking for in your education experience. For example, is flexibility a priority? Are you organized and motivated enough to complete classes on your own? Do you crave in-person or online interaction? Then, the next step is evaluating online colleges, campus universities, and other career preparation programs to figure out which one may help you turn your dream job into a reality. Did you know? Each month 1000’s of people search for ‘online colledges’, while 10’s of thousands search for ‘online colleges’ you are not alone in your quest for higher education! 

Earn Your Degree, Start a Business

Small Business IdeasHave you earned your degree, and are having trouble finding a job? Maybe you don't have a degree and are struggling to figure out what you want to do with your career...Whatever the case may be, maybe starting a small business may be the right move for you!

Let's be frank, deciding to start your own business is not going to be easy, you may or may not need to earn a degree first - but chances are many of the lessons you would learn while earning a business degree would come in handy (like an MBA!)! But first, let's take a step back.  Before you make a decision on education, you need to decide what type of business you would like to start.  

To help you do this, EarnMyDegree has put together a small business series...each week we will release a new small business idea and important information to starting that business. Not only that, but we also are happy to provide articles aimed at helping any business succeed! Topics such as 'How to work your LinkedIn contacts to grow your business' and real advice from real business owners on how to run a successful small business.  Check out the entire series!