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4 misconceptions about online degrees

Online degrees

​Sometimes the biggest impediment to moving forward is misconception.

You're a busy educator. A master's degree sounds like a great idea – a pay bump, updated skills, prestige, a longtime dream fulfilled. But you need the best fit for your work and family schedules. Online seems to make sense. No travel time, do your work after the kids are in bed, catch up over your lunch hour or on your commute. But you're not sure.

You've heard things. Maybe it's not worth it. Maybe you'll miss talking with classmates. Maybe you won't fit in. Maybe your computer will crash.

Maybe you could use some help sorting out some of the biggest misconceptions about online programs.

You work alone and there's little interaction with other students or your instructor.

Online is the perfect place to meet people in the same situation you are. They are working, raising families and living their lives. Through group work and chat sessions you get to know each other. Everyone here has a story and a goal. You can expand your business network and support system while you make friends with like-minded professionals. Instructors often say they have more one-on-one time with online students. It's a very direct interaction you don't often get in a classroom. You email or call your instructor and get a personal reply.

Employers don't like online degrees.

Online programs are so common today, as long as your degree comes from an accredited, reputable institution, employers really aren't worried whether you did your work in your pajamas or a classroom, according to U.S. News and World Report.

You have to be a computer expert.

If you have basic computer skills and can navigate your way around the internet, open and close programs, do a search, attach a file, and save your work, you should be fine. Many schools have demo courses so you can get familiar with the software before you start your class and programs that test your computer to see if you have everything you need. If something doesn't work, most schools have free tech help available to all students.

It's all self-paced. I need some structure to keep me on track.

Due dates are not going away. Instructors give you a syllabus with tasks and milestones to meet as you move through the course. You won't be able to put it all off to the last minute. If you have trouble staying organized, many schools have tips and tricks to help with time management.

Don't let misconceptions stand between you and your goal. Bottom line, if you need a flexible format for your studies, do your research. Look for a regionally accredited school with a great reputation for support and a history of graduating successful online students. There's a checklist with guidelines for choosing an online school here.

To take your first step toward your online master's degree, check out all the programs offered by Central Michigan University at www.global.cmich.edu/OnlineEd.




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