Unlike what many educators and students believe, online master’s degree programs can be just as rigorous as traditional programs. Students are exposed to academically-rigorous curriculums taught by professionals in their fields of study, have access to a wide range of scholarly articles stored in online databases, and have the opportunities to interact with their peers to discuss assignments and collaborate on projects. Having said that, deciding between online master’s degree programs and preparing for the rigors of completing a degree can be just as daunting as for traditional programs. Below you will find essential tips you can use to make sure you get the most out of an online master’s degree.
As mentioned earlier, being a successful online student requires many similar tactics as realizing success in a traditional program. One of the biggest detriments to online programs have been their lack of interactive teaching, which traditional programs often stress. Today, however, interactions between students and teachers is gaining traction in the field of study. Unfortunately, online programs encourage communication through writing emails and chatting with others, so developing writing skills will be necessary for students.
Effective writing skills, however, are important skills to develop regardless of communication between students. Given the focus on technical skills and learning how to use complicated software, many students often neglect to develop their writing skills in online master’s programs. Given the expansive demand for effective writers (marketing materials, financial presentations, academic papers, press releases, policy memos, to name a few industries requiring effective writers), this is a field which students should not glance over.
Just because online master’s programs provide greater schedule flexibility does not reduce the amount of effort required for you to excel in these curriculums. When participating in an online master’s program, especially one which is accredited by a nationally-recognized organization, your instructors will expect just as much effort on your end as is expected from students at prestigious institutions. Taking advantage of the networking opportunities these programs provide will help you retain greater amounts of course material, so partaking in conferencing and chat opportunities will be important.
Although online master’s programs are typically cheaper than their traditional counterparts, financing a degree program remains one of the most important aspects of completing a degree program. Luckily, applying for financial aid for accredited online master’s programs is the same as for traditional programs. In terms of government-funded financial aid, applying for scholarships and loans such as Pell Grants and Federal Stafford Loans requires the completion of a Free Application for Federal Student Aid(FAFSA). The scholarships are distributed based on need, so the FAFSA is essential for determining the financial stability of all its applicants. When completing the FAFSA, it’s important to keep several tips in mind, including:
The United States Department of Education offers a comprehensive resource for helping students and parents find both merit and need-based scholarship programs available to students. Furthermore, this resource offers students important information on the terms of student loans that the government offers. If you are receiving a student loan, it will be important to calculate the benefits versus the costs of the loan, which includes the amount of interest-free periods, interest rates, and time to repay before you agree to the terms.
As you can see, completing an online master’s degree requires the same amount of effort in preparing for your education and in putting your efforts into developing a wealth of knowledge. Given the prestige bestowed upon master’s degrees obtained through accredited online institutions, you should expect to be challenged just as much as from a traditional program.