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How Online Bachelor’s Degrees Typically Work
Earning a college degree online can seem daunting – after all, if you have been accustomed to learning in a classroom, the idea of completing an education completely online can feel foreign and strange. But though there are several big differences in earning your degree online, there are also similarities to a traditional classroom education.
The first thing you will need to do when it comes to earning your bachelor’s degree online is to find a school in which to enroll. Remember that not all schools are created equal, so you will need to check the accreditation status of your prospective school with a tool like The U.S. Department of Education’s Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs to ensure that your program will indeed reward you with a valuable degree for your efforts.
After picking a school and enrolling in it, you will need to create a rough plan for your educational career. This means that you should map out when to take certain classes, keeping in mind that many online schools have a limitation on how many classes you can take at once. An online program should last just as long as a classroom-based program if you are enrolling as a full-time student. This means that your online bachelor’s degree should take about four to five years to complete, just like if you were to earn it on campus.
Most online schools use an educational platform called Blackboard, which allows students to view class materials, contact their instructors and classmates, and turn in course assignments during any time of the day and on any day of the week. The lectures posted on Blackboard may consist of videos, interactive slideshows, or textbook-format readings, depending on the subject taught and the particular instructor. All online classes are small, with about 20 students each, to ensure that all of the students have a good learning experience. Instructors may also have students participate in a message board community on Blackboard to simulate thought-provoking classroom discussions. In addition, you will still have to take quizzes and examinations for your online courses. Some of these tests may have to be completed at designated testing sites, such as a local community college, so that they may be proctored. For degrees that require outside work, such as health care degrees that require clinical hours, the online school will arrange for students to complete this outside work with a local facility.
When you successfully complete your bachelor’s degree program, you will be rewarded with a degree in the mail that is as valuable as any degree earned at a traditional campus-based school. If you earn your degree from a school that also has a physical campus, you may even be able to participate in the campus commencement ceremony to celebrate your new degree.