The last decade was difficult. From terrorist attacks, war, and a severe economic crisis, it’s no wonder many of us couldn’t have been happier to see the clock strike midnight on New Year’s Eve. Sayonara 2009!
As for the new decade, one of the best ways to ensure prosperity is to finally start or finish your college degree. Like many women, I’m in the position of trying to juggle the demands of family, a full-time job, and school. To help manage my load, I enrolled in an online degree plan from the University of Houston–Victoria. An eight hour workday followed by three hours of classes can be exhausting. I would much rather do my studying from the comfort of my home and pajamas. The following are some important tips to keep in mind if you decide that an online degree plan might be right for you:
1. Enroll in an accredited degree program: There are many online degree programs floating around the internet. However, if you want your college credits to transfer or your future employers to recognize your degree, then it is crucial to enroll in an accredited college or university. Be aware that not all accreditations are real. Research the school carefully before you enroll by searching the U.S. Department of Education Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).
2. Spend wisely: College is expensive, but some online degree programs are pricier than others. Private schools, such as DeVry University, are usually several times more expensive than state schools. Also, if you enroll in a state school outside of your residency, then you’ll likely pay “out-of-state” tuition which is very costly. If you can find an online degree program at a state school where you live, you will save significantly on tuition.
3. Manage your time carefully: Once you’ve started your online degree, it is imperative to effectively manage your time. Given that you don’t actually go to a classroom (where you risk possible humiliation if the professor asks you a question about assigned reading you didn’t read), you might be tempted to procrastinate. Plan your time well and read course materials at least every other day. Not that I’ve learned this from experience, but waiting until Friday night to cram for a Saturday exam usually results in exhaustion and less than stellar coursework.
4. Stay organized: Organization is just as crucial as time management when it comes to taking online classes. At the beginning of each semester, I write out all my assignments in a planner and check for upcoming items once or twice a week. I also break down big projects into smaller to-do items to avoid last minute cramming. Lastly, I have a folder for each class where I put all my printed syllabi and class notes.
Going back to school can be scary, but online programs offer the flexibility that many busy women need. I’ll admit it’s been a long bumpy road, but in December when I finally walk across the stage, diploma in hand, all the effort will be worth it. Here’s to a great new decade! .