3 Things to Consider Before Earning Your Online Degree

ashford student pat middleton with his family

Standing at the brink of a major life change — going back to school — it’s important to understand factors like finances, career options, time commitment, and a myriad of other aspects.

Speaking from experience, Pat Middleton remembers wrestling with the decision of going back to school. Now a college graduate, he offers advice to others considering the online education route. “You’re going to have a lot of questions,” says Pat. “But don’t be afraid to ask them.”

Of the many factors impacting online education, Pat notes that there are three major things you might want to consider. “When I sat down to map out what online education would mean for me, I realized it came down to three big questions. Hopefully, my experience can help others decide if going back to school is right for them.”

How much would it cost if you don’t pursue this education?

Earning your degree requires a significant commitment in time and money, but it can pay off in the long run. “You have to think about the long-term benefits over the short-term costs,” notes Pat. “I knew that if I put off going back to school, I’d be unhappy in my job that much longer. The cost of education didn’t compare to my happiness.”

What are your long-term goals?

You may qualify for new career opportunities once you have an associate's, bachelor’s, or master’s degree, which is something to consider as far as long-term goals go. “I asked myself where I wanted to be in 5, 10, or more years,” explains Pat. “And it wasn’t at that entry-level job. But I couldn’t advance until I had a degree.”

What resources do I need to succeed in online education?

Every student learns in different ways, and it’s important to find an environment that suits your needs as an online learner. “I’m very visual, so I relied heavily on the online library, videos, and guides to get me through,” explains Pat. “With each class, I became more comfortable and confident in my surroundings.” Consider your learning style and the resources you need to be successful in your academic endeavors. Having an understanding of your unique circumstances will help you determine if an online degree program is the right choice for you.

While there are many factors to consider before beginning an online degree, the story of Pat and others like him can help you understand what to expect from the journey. You may also consider picturing what a week in the life of an online student looks like.



Written by Kelsey Bober, Content Manager for Bridgepoint Education

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