What is an Online Bachelor’s Degree Program Like?

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Online bach­e­lor’s degree pro­grams are increas­ing­ly pop­u­lar among non-tra­di­tion­al stu­dents who are seek­ing a more flex­i­ble alter­na­tive method for return­ing to col­lege. Accord­ing to the Bab­son Sur­vey Research Group, around 5.8 mil­lion stu­dents are tak­ing at least one online course. Online pro­grams pri­mar­i­ly appeal to indi­vid­u­als with pre­vi­ous col­lege cred­its who need to fin­ish their degree while main­tain­ing good work-life-school bal­ance. One U.S. News sur­vey found that the aver­age online under­grad is 32 years old. Near­ly 85 per­cent of online bach­e­lor’s stu­dents are work­ing at least part-time and 95 per­cent are trans­fers. Online learn­ing is tout­ed for being more acces­si­ble, con­ve­nient, and afford­able. But in the fol­low­ing arti­cle, we’ll look clos­er at what it’s like to earn a bach­e­lor’s degree with­in the vir­tu­al walls of online classrooms.

Studying Online Lectures

Online instruc­tors typ­i­cal­ly com­mu­ni­cate con­tent via vir­tu­al lec­tures that are either read like a text­book or video record­ed in asyn­chro­nous cours­es. At times, syn­chro­nous cours­es will fea­ture online web con­fer­enc­ing like Skype for join­ing the cam­pus lec­ture hall from home. Online lec­tures are accessed by log­ging onto the school’s eLearn­ing plat­form, such as Black­board, Can­vas, and Moo­dle, at least twice a week. From the dash­board, stu­dents can eas­i­ly track their progress through the online course’s mod­ules for sched­ul­ing. Online learn­ers will digest lec­tures by lis­ten­ing to the pro­fes­sor, watch­ing Pow­er­Point pre­sen­ta­tions, or read­ing uploaded con­tent while tak­ing thor­ough notes like oth­er classes.

Submitting Online Assignments

Com­plet­ing an online bach­e­lor’s degree is more flex­i­ble but not any eas­i­er. There will still be the same amount of course assign­ments to either upload or email. After read­ing chap­ters and lis­ten­ing to lec­tures, knowl­edge is test­ed in var­i­ous assign­ments. For instance, online biol­o­gy cours­es could include an applied lab with short-answer ques­tions. Eng­lish cours­es could ask online learn­ers to cre­ate a lit­er­ary sum­ma­ry or assign an essay prompt. Online bach­e­lor’s pro­grams in busi­ness could pro­vide real-world case stud­ies and group projects. These types of course assign­ments will have due dates list­ed in the syl­labus, so self-dis­ci­pline is required to stay on track.

Engaging in Online Discussions

One fre­quent com­plaint about online bach­e­lor’s degree pro­grams is a lack of engage­ment with peers and pro­fes­sors. How­ev­er, advances in tech­nol­o­gy have made it eas­i­er for online stu­dents to form last­ing con­nec­tions through the Inter­net. Online col­leges gen­er­al­ly will require con­tribut­ing to the course’s dis­cus­sion boards at least once week­ly. Dis­cus­sion threads usu­al­ly have a prompt for stu­dents to insight­ful­ly respond to their col­leagues’ com­ments. Though stu­dents could be asked to attend group web chats at a spe­cif­ic time in syn­chro­nous cours­es, most are avail­able 24/7. This may be extra ben­e­fi­cial for shy stu­dents who pre­fer putting time, thought, and research into their online dis­cus­sion contributions.

Taking Online Examinations

Pro­fes­sors teach­ing online under­grad­u­ate cours­es need to assess what con­tent aspects have been learned just like in tra­di­tion­al class­es. Online exam­i­na­tions are usu­al­ly tak­en from the com­fort of home with access to your text­books. There­fore, these timed mul­ti­ple-choice or short-answer tests will ask greater depth of knowl­edge beyond plain mem­o­riza­tion of facts. Tests could have var­i­ous ques­tion pools to avoid stu­dents shar­ing answers. Online cours­es in the lib­er­al arts like his­to­ry or phi­los­o­phy could replace exams with papers. Some online col­leges seek to main­tain aca­d­e­m­ic rig­or by hav­ing proc­tored test­ing. Online stu­dents then must take the exam oral­ly, record­ed by web­cam, or at exter­nal test­ing cen­ters.

If you’re still unde­cid­ed on whether an online bach­e­lor’s degree pro­gram is right for you, con­sid­er tak­ing an online course tour before enroll­ment. For exam­ple, the Uni­ver­si­ty of Kansas Med­ical Cen­ter offers this eLearn­ing overview to give insights into how online cours­es work. Course ori­en­ta­tions are com­mon in most online bach­e­lor’s pro­grams to dou­ble check that you have the tech­no­log­i­cal and time man­age­ment skills to suc­ceed. Although they’re ungrad­ed, online ori­en­ta­tions famil­iar­ize you with the col­lege’s learn­ing plat­form. Take this oppor­tu­ni­ty seri­ous­ly to pre­pare for an online bach­e­lor’s degree and its aver­age life­time earn­ings of $2.27 million.

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