Online College Degrees

Online degree programs are one way that people already in the workforce can work toward a college degree or an advanced degree.

Contact the different universities to see what program best fits your needs. In addition, ask for specific information on how the online courses work. Each online program works a little differently. There are different software programs used. These different programs are what give online students the ability to interact with the instructor and classmates. Here are a few things to think about.

Professional credit. You have worked hard to obtain your A&P, and some universities are acknowledging that hard work. They offer college credits for your A&P certificates. Check with each university to see how many hours they offer for an A&P certificate.

Course duration. Is completing the program in a quick time frame important to you? Then you may opt to enroll in a program that offers self-paced study or an accelerated degree program. For example, LeTourneau offers accelerated degree programs where the students go through the courses in a quicker time frame. But be prepared to devote additional study time for accelerated programs.

Cost. Cost is a major factor for many students. Check the cost of tuition at the universities you are looking into to determine the total cost. Don’t forget to consider additional costs of books and supplies. In addition, check with your company to see if it offers any type of tuition reimbursement program. Many employers offer tuition reimbursement to employees. If you are still stretched for cash, check with the associations such as the Aircraft Electronics Association (AEA), Association for Women in Aviation Maintenance (AWAM), National Air Transportation Association (NATA), Professional Aviation Maintenance Association (PAMA), or Women in Aviation International (WAI) for any scholarships that are available. Associations award thousands of dollars each year in scholarships. But you won’t have a chance for any of that money if you don’t do some research and apply for the scholarships you are eligible for.

Another factor to consider in regards to cost is the amount of courses you will need to complete your degree. If one university offers a lower tuition cost, it may not be the best value. If you need to attend more classes because you don’t get as much college credit for your A&P then it may cost more in the long run.

Although cost is an important factor for many potential students, don’t make your college decision solely on cost. Do your research and go with the institution that offers the best value for your needs.

Course flexibility

I asked ERAU graduate Greg Mellema, a technical instructor for Reno, Nevada-based Abaris, what advice he would give potential online students. Greg’s first tip had to do with course flexibility. “The best thing about taking college courses online is flexibility,” Mellema says. “You can ‘attend’ class at your convenience and work at your own pace on assignments. But I would have to say that flexibility is also the most difficult part of online courses. If you don’t stay on top of your assignments, they can easily get away from you.”

Study time

Many potential students assume that online courses are easier than traditional classroom courses. Don’t let yourself fall into that trap. “You need to devote more time to an online course than you would for a classroom course for the same amount of credit hours,” Mellema shares. “In a classroom environment, you can ask your instructor questions if you get confused and get instant feedback. But in an online course you need to do a lot more self-study. You still have some interaction with the instructor and classmates, but it is not the same as a classroom environment. So be prepared to spend more time per credit hour studying.”

Having taken an online course myself, I would definitely agree with Greg on the increased time requirement. Most colleges recommend that if you want to get a good grade, you must spend two hours studying for each hour in a traditional class. So, for a class that is three credit hours, you will need to study about six additional hours each week to do well.

But online courses don’t have specific class times. So you have to factor in additional time for “class time.” Add to that the difficulty of self-study for some, and you may be looking at spending nine to 12 hours a week to do well in a course that is three credit hours. But don’t let that scare you. It can be done. You just need to be aware of the time requirements and make the time to study. Because of the flexibility of online courses, you will be able to do this more easily than trying to arrange your work and study schedule around a traditional classroom course.

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