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Friday, January 27, 2017

6 Ways to Sample an Online Degree Program | U.S. News & World Report

Photo: Jordan Friedman
Jordan Friedman, online education editor at U.S. News inform, "Programs might offer course demos or classes to determine whether online learning is a fit."

Experts say prospective students should sample a program to see if they have the motivation to complete online courses.
Photo: Thomas Northcut/Getty Images
When Lisa Dowdell heard about the for-profit, online Capella University through her daughter, a student, she was excited about the prospect of earning a bachelor's degree on her own schedule.

But Dowdell, a web application developer living in the Chicago suburbs, wasn't sure whether the online format was suitable for her. Fortunately for Dowdell, Capella offers a free weeklong sample course to give students a taste of what to expect.

"I said, 'OK, let me just take this so I could see what I'm in for,'" says the 51-year-old information technology student. Taking the sample course, she says, would also tell her whether she would be able to successfully manage her time.

Dowdell completed assignments and engaged virtually with classmates and faculty, she says. Ultimately, she decided online learning worked for her.

For prospective online students, sampling an online degree program is key to determine whether the format is right for them and choose a program based on structure and flexibility, many experts say. 

These opportunities are often available on a program's website or by contacting an admissions or enrollment counselor.

"I think sometimes, perceptions of students don't necessarily align with the actual reality of what a program is," says Vickie Cook, director of the Center for Online Learning, Research and Service at the University of Illinois—Springfield.

Online learning requires self-motivation and the ability to communicate with peers and instructors from a distance, experts say. And each program is created differently.

Here are six ways prospective online students might sample online degree programs, depending on what's available at different schools.
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Source: U.S. News & World Report