4 Reasons to Consider an Online Degree While You’re Out of Work
Wherever you’re at in your education and career journey, with uncertainty surrounding the economy, you might be thinking of putting your plans on hold. However, you can use this time to equip yourself with skills and knowledge that will help you establish yourself as a forward-thinking leader.
If that’s the best path forward for you, enrolling in an online degree program may be a great first step. Online programs allow you to stay focused on your career development while cultivating skills that will be sought after well into the future.
“While facing an unexpected hiatus from work, you may find you have the time to complete your degree or seek the next graduate level,” says Tony Ball, who helps lead recruitment at Azusa Pacific University, where he serves military-connected prospective students. “Also, during this time of uncertainty in the immediate and near-term future, online degrees allow the flexibility to be comfortable in what may come next while continuing your education.”
Here are four reasons you might consider pursuing an online degree.
1. The World Needs Independent Learners and Leaders
Of all the reasons to consider an online degree program during this season of your life, the most important are the fresh skills and knowledge you can obtain. The lessons you learn while working through the curriculum can give you tools you’ll be able to apply in professional realms that are evolving rapidly.
“As we face a job-seekers market, it can be important to improve your skills and expand your competitiveness in the job market,” says Ball.
Due to the nature of online learning, you’ll quickly understand the value of being an independent learner. It also offers you a chance to develop and practice important skills such as time management and self-motivation within your field—all of which transfer seamlessly into the working world and especially remote work environments.
“If you are a student who is tech-shy or tech-fearful, online programs also provide exceptional tutorials and live support to help students develop complex technology skills that can directly help advance their career skills,” says Kathryn Ecklund, Ph.D., chair of APU’s Department of Psychology, which offers an online bachelor’s completion program in psychology.
As society navigates these times, one thing is certain: there will be a market for independent professionals who rise in the face of adversity. An online degree can help you be a part of that.
2. An Abundance of Available Programs
Fortunately, learning online is more accessible now than ever. In 2017, nearly 20 million students enrolled in an online course, according to the National Center for Education Statistics—that’s nearly one in three American college students. The figure also represents a staggering increase from just five years ago.
This means that whatever education level you’re at, there’s sure to be a variety of online options that fit your goals. Whether you are looking to advance as an educator, health professional, business leader, or something else, you can find a program that’s perfect for you. For instance, the online offerings at APU consist of more than 20 bachelor’s degree completion programs and master’s degrees as well as a few doctorate-level options.
“Online students come from the most diverse walks of life,” says Ball. “They tend to be driven self-starters who will succeed in their future careers and desire to create an impact.”
3. Classes Can Be Completed On Your Schedule
If there’s one word that describes the benefits of online degrees, it’s flexibility. This can be helpful even if you are not currently working, allowing you to balance everything in your life.
Online classes mean coursework is available 24 hours a day, so you can study and interact with the material when it works best for you. And you can still stay connected to professors and peers through online interactions, virtual office hours, or scheduled calls. With certain low-residency online programs, you may have the option of campus visits when those become possible again.
Flexible scheduling makes getting a degree online a great option, especially for students who:
- Are facing a career pause or transition.
- Have families or other life commitments.
- Want to stick to their graduation timeline.
Keep in mind that just because online classes are flexible doesn’t make the coursework easier—it’s the same material you would receive in-person, simply adjusted to an online format. In fact, with all the resources available to you, it should feel a bit like you’re on a virtual campus.
4. Extensive Support Resources
Even though you won’t attend classes on campus doesn’t mean there isn’t academic support, research tools, and engagement opportunities available to you as an online student.
Distance learners at APU engage in a variety of instructional methods, from discussion forums to blogs and videoconferencing to group projects. This allows everyone—even online learners—to enjoy a strong sense of community.
“Facing uncertainties and adversity is tough, but you don’t have to do it alone,” Ball explains. “With low student-to-faculty ratios, we have the benefit of assisting students with personal success and networking during each program. It’s a wonderful way to find more open doors, become a part of the community, and make a difference.”
Online students also have access to a plethora of resources, including:
- 24/7 technical support
- Extensive tutorials for Canvas, the school’s online course management system
- Online University Library resources
- Academic Success Center
- Writing and Speaking Center (via videoconferencing)
In addition, financial aid is available. About 70 percent of online students at APU receive support, meaning loans and grants are available to finance your education. As an online student, you’ll also have access to the network of more than 60,000 APU alumni, a tremendous asset to lean on as you start your career.
APU’s online programs are built around a Christ-centered education model, which teaches students how to connect the dots between faith, their professional skills, and their ability to make a real difference in their communities.
Posted: May 28, 2020