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10 Oct Undergraduate Online Degree Programs

For many adults today, the opportunity to pursue a college degree immediately after high school simply was not an option. The reasons for this can vary greatly, from military service, work or financial obligations, family responsibilities, or to pursue other goals before buckling down to attend college. Sometime further down the road, many of us woke up one day to realize that we needed to obtain that degree in order to achieve professional or personal goals. In fact, career stagnation is reportedly one of the primary factors influencing a person’s decision to return to school.

Yet, in many instances, current life obligations do not seem to allow one to return to school, mostly due to time or financial restraints. The uncertainty of family commitments and work schedules can further discourage a potential student from considering evening or weekend campus work. And, as adults, the prospect of sitting in class with a bunch of students freshly out of high school really seems unappealing for many of us. Too few working adults can commit to attending an evening or weekend course for a twelve or thirteen week period. In addition, the traditional college route requires a student to take several courses per semester in order to graduate within a reasonable period of time; in fact, failing to graduate after 8-10 years might require a student to take additional courses to meet new requirements.

The increased availability of computing and Internet technologies has helped increase the popularity of online degree programs, many of which are tailored to meet the demands of working adults. These programs alleviate the obstacles facing working adults today by offering 24/7 classroom access and intense, rapidly paced classes that help students to learn skills and keep pace with their brick-and-mortar counterparts. Through online degree programs, working adults can pursue previously shelved educational goals.

Many online degree programs at the undergraduate level are comparable to those found in traditional schools. Programs ranging from law enforcement, nursing, education, business, arts and humanities, and even technology can all be found through online programs. Most of these programs provide the full curriculum that one would expect to find at brick-and-mortar schools. New tools enable instructors to teach material (including online lectures, tutorials, and math and writing labs) to help students excel in all areas.

Like traditional schools, there are some programs that can help further accelerate a student’s progress. Most of the online degree programs require 4-5 years for degree completion. Students can choose to transfer previously earned credits from other accredited institutions, and most of these will satisfy general education requirements. Students can also seek to test-out of certain classes by passing accepted exams (CLEP comes to mind). Still other universities offering online degree programs will accept related education taken outside of the traditional college system (as long as there are some continuing education credits attached to that course). I was fortunate to be able to translate military training into acceptable general education studies. A few universities will accept personal or work experience related to your program, often demonstrated through an experiential essay. The best advice is to ask about these programs prior to admission.



Keith Londrie

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