Online education is becoming more popular across all levels, from college to language learning, and even kindergarten. Online universities, in particular, are gaining popularity among students who cannot join traditional schools due to time or budgetary constraints.
Choosing the type of classes or degree program to pursue is a problem faced by online students. Students interested in law can be torn between an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree in legal studies if they wish to pursue a career as a paralegal or a solicitor. Some students attend paralegal courses at online schools. Here are a few things to keep in mind when picking a degree program.
Four-year or associate?
Aside from choosing the school, this question is often the first thing students ask themselves. Associate’s or 2-year degrees immediately qualify students for certain jobs upon completion. Unlike traditional degrees, associate’s cut out most general education requirements. Students pursuing these degrees are likely preparing for a highly-specialized field, such as nursing or avionics.
Bachelor’s or four-year degrees are often what students have in mind when they think about college. Four-year degrees require students to complete two year’s worth of general education requirements. Elective classes are also offered and can be channeled into a minor to compliment a student’s focus or major. Associate’s degree holders may also expedite their path to a bachelor’s degree, depending on their school’s credit transfer policies.
Because of its four-year nature, a bachelor’s degree typically costs more than associate’s. Time is also a factor to consider when choosing between an associate’s and a bachelor’s degree.
Customizing your learning experience
Online learning is as flexible with the approaches to it as the schedule you can build around it. There are generally three types of courses you can take in online schooling: asynchronous online courses, synchronous online courses, and hybrid courses.
Asynchronous learning is also known as learning on-demand or self-paced learning. Students with busy schedules opt for these courses, as they do not have set meeting times. Interaction with instructors and classmates take place through discussion boards or email. Often, they are given access to an e-learning platform with downloadable information packets and other resources. Self-pacing is practiced by students to keep up with the time frame set for assignments and tests.
Synchronous online courses require the presence of students at a set time for a lecture. Student interactions with the instructor or fellow students are facilitated through audio or text chat. While more involved than asynchronous courses, some students prefer having face-to-face time with their peers and instructor. A few studies suggest that synchronous learning allows for immediate feedback, increased engagement, and improved clarity for certain content.
Lastly, hybrid online courses blend the traditional face-to-face environment with online learning. Hybrid classes can be more synchronous or asynchronous in their online component. Schedules for classroom times are announced before the semester starts. In-person meetings can take place once a week or more infrequently, depending on the requirements of the course. Communication lines are typically more open in face-to-face sessions.
Regardless of which degree program or learning style a student chooses, what matters, in the end, is completing the coursework and having that degree on their resume.