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Getting Started with Associate Degrees Online

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There are many different reasons to consider in earning an associate degree.

For instance,

• You are not sure what career / field of study you want to engage

Many kinds of associate degrees such as Associate of Arts and Associate of Science degrees don’t require you to determine a major. Actually, an associate degree in liberal arts will give you the flexibility to postpone your decision until you have a clear idea of what you want to pursue.

• You want to earn a degree faster

An associate degree can help you start your career path sooner. In only two years (or 60 credit hours), you can complete the necessary training and get an associate degree to enter some of the fastest growing business fields.

• You can save big bucks to earn an associate degree

Community and junior colleges usually offer associate degrees with a significantly lower tuition rate. Due to this, an associate degree also gets you a cheap start on a bachelor degree. You can save a great deal by transferring to a university after you’ve finished the first 2 years of your studies.

As you have seen, an associate degree gives you much flexibility and helps you save money and time. However, if what you care about more is flexibility and economy, I recommend you to earn an associate degree online – which is cheaper, very accessible and flexible to students.

While online degrees draw students largely due to the flexibility and convenience they offer, not all students are suited to earning degrees online. To determine whether an online associate degree is a good fit for you, a good idea is to look at your personality and habits as a learner.

• Self-Discipline

Earning online associate degree requires a lot of self-discipline and initiative. You have to make yourself spend hours sitting in front of a computer on a regular basis. Also, you have to set a study schedule and keep it. If without these abilities, you are not likely to do well in online courses.

In fact, today’s online degree programs are no longer a completely self-directed program. Many instructors are now trained to set up course schedules that require students to complete assignments within deadlines, participate at certain times and sign up regularly.

• Minimal Interaction

Virtually, many online degree programs feature face-to-face interaction whether through live chat room or video conferencing. However, they could never substitute for the regular interaction you will find in traditional classroom-based programs.

So, if face-to-face communication with teacher or classmates is important to you, then online associate degree program may not work well for you.

• Access to Computer

Another thing you should consider is that whether you have easy and convenient access to a computer and internet connection. This is vital to take an online degree program. However, it may be difficult for you to get enough time to do your coursework, if you share a computer with others such as families or colleagues, or if you only have access to computer at office. So, it is better if you are able to afford a computer and internet connection.

Got it?

If you have thought it over, now let’s move to the next step – how to earn an associate degree online . You will find earning an associate degree online is actually not as difficult as you think.

1. Determine Your Needs

Most of us have known that an associate degree is an undergraduate academic degree. But, many of you may be not aware that these degrees can either be earned as a career preparation degree or as a stepping stone to a bachelor’s degree.

For those who pursue an associate degree towards your career path, getting an associate degree in a specific field of study is what I recommend, such as electronics, avionics and mechanics. If you are still undecided whether to transfer to a 4-year college degree, then a general degree field like liberal arts is great for you.

2. Choose Online School for Your Associate Degree

Research schools that offer online associate degree programs. You know an associate degree is awarded by community colleges, junior colleges, technical colleges and bachelor’s degree-granting colleges and universities. Most of these colleges provide students with option to attend a campus-based program and earn their degree online.

Anyway, no matter which school or online associate degree program you choose, make sure it is accredited. But, why accreditation is that important? That’s because it:

• Ensures the program you choose meet acceptable levels of quality

• Determines whether the institution of your choice accepts transfer credits

• Helps employers determine the validity of programs of study (most employers want to be sure that their prospective employees earned their degree from an accredited program)

• Offers a basis for determining eligibility for federal student assistance (only accredited institutions offer federal student loans or grants)

In addition to accreditation, also consider its support service to online students. Many online schools claim that they offer good student service because they have a toll-free number, email or chat-based live help on their website. Of course, these are good things, but they are not the only issues in service you need to consider.

Also, look at other indicators to determine their service level. For example, how quickly they respond to your questions or complaint? Is their service available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week? Most importantly, are they interested in helping you complete your degree online?

3. Figure out asynchronous vs. synchronous learning style

Once your online associate degree program is selected, do have a look at the course description and find out their learning style. Generally speaking, online courses are offered in two basic styles: asynchronous and synchronous.

Synchronous means students must be online at set time. Lectures, discussions and presentations occur at a set time through chatting room, video conferencing, web conferencing, internet radio and other sources.

Asynchronous learning, which is thought to be more flexible, is just opposite. Students can access materials, lectures and assignments at any time. In most cases, this learning style has time limits on coursework, but does not thrust specific time requirements on students.

Today, most online associate degree programs feature asynchronous courses, however, perhaps with several synchronous courses. Anyhow, remember to check the course description and determine which style is right for you.

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