When you have a question, it’s always best to turn to a subject matter expert for answers. This time we spoke to enrollment counselor Kelly Kephart about online bachelor’s degrees. If you’re thinking about returning to school or starting college for the first time, you might be asking, “Can you get a bachelor’s degree online?” You could be asking the question for many reasons: maybe you work full-time, have family obligations, travel frequently, serve as a caregiver, are in the military, or simply lead an otherwise busy life.
Fortunately, the answer to that question is a resounding “Yes!” If an online degree seems a better fit for your current schedule and obligations, you’re likely to find a program that matches your career interests. Kelly Kephart, an enrollment counselor at National University, says most bachelor’s degrees offered are available entirely online. From cybersecurity to public health, nursing to early childhood education, to name just a few, you can likely find an online degree option at National that will help you achieve your professional goals.
The Benefits of Online Degree Programs
If you were to ask a few dozen online degree students why they chose this form of education, you’d likely hear a similar response from all of them.
“Flexibility is the number one reason our students choose to study online. Most of our students are working adults,” says Kephart.
In fact, Kephart is one of those working adult students: she not only works in National University’s admissions office, but she’s also taking classes herself. Convenience is another benefit of online degrees. Not being tied to a physical campus location or committed to a specific block of time is appealing to many.
While classes and schedules vary from school to school, many online degree programs are designed in an accelerated format. This means that rather than take three or four courses over a traditional semester, you might take one class at a time for just four weeks. Kephart says this is how National’s program is structured. Focusing on one topic at a time is a valuable benefit for many students, especially those returning to the classroom after many years.
What Are Classes in Online Degree Programs Like?
Online learning management systems (the programs you use to access your course materials) have come a long way. This means that short of being in a physical classroom at a specific time, you’ll likely still feel a part of a learning community.
“I’ve had a pretty good experience communicating with the students in my classes,” explains Kephart. “We even did a few group projects.”
Sometimes instructors may offer a live video lecture or real-time discussion, which adds value to online degree programs. Typically, these are coordinated around students’ schedules, and usually, if someone misses it, they can access a recording or transcript at a later time that’s convenient for them.
Tips for Maximizing the Online Learning Experience
When diving into the realm of online education, it’s not just about choosing the right program; it’s also about making the most of every virtual lecture, discussion, and assignment. Just as Kephart shared insights about what classes are like, we’ve turned to her once again to provide guidance on maximizing the online learning experience.
Tip #1 Staying Motivated in a Virtual Classroom
It’s a sentiment echoed by many: the digital realm can sometimes feel isolating. But with the right mindset, it can also be a space of immense growth and self-discipline. “Remember your ‘why,'” suggests Kephart. “Whether it’s career advancement, personal growth, or a lifelong dream, keeping your goals in sight can be a powerful motivator.” Setting up a dedicated study space, creating a visual board of your goals, or even having regular check-ins with fellow students can make a world of difference in maintaining enthusiasm.
Tip #2 Mastering the Art of Time Management
Online education offers flexibility, but with that comes the responsibility of managing one’s time effectively. “It’s all about balance,” says Kephart. She recommends starting with a weekly planner. “Outline your tasks, set specific study hours, and don’t forget to allocate time for breaks.” Using digital tools like calendar apps or time-tracking software can also help students stay on track. And remember, it’s okay to ask for help or seek out resources, like National University’s student support services, to hone your time management skills.
Tip #3 Engaging Actively in Online Discussions
The virtual classroom is a hub of diverse thoughts and perspectives. Actively participating in online discussions not only enriches your learning experience but also builds a sense of community. “Think of it as a collaborative journey,” Kephart enthuses. “Every comment, question, or insight you share adds value to the collective learning.” To stay engaged, make it a habit to log in regularly, respond to peers’ posts, and pose questions that provoke deeper thinking. And don’t shy away from seeking feedback; it’s a pathway to growth.
How Do Internships or Student-Teaching Work in Online Degree Programs?
Many degree programs require (or encourage) an internship or, in the case of an education degree, student teaching. Kephart explains online students will be able to search for an internship site close to where they live. For student teachers, she adds, “They’ll be placed in a school in their area.” Kephart explains that at National University, for some majors and programs, there’s a certain required amount of hours. So the internship may last for two of those four-week terms.
Can You Get a Bachelor’s Degree Online and Still Be Eligible for Financial Aid?
Most accredited colleges and universities offer financial aid to online students who qualify. Typically, if you’re attending school on a full-time basis, whether online or on campus, you’d be eligible to apply for financial aid. Kephart adds that National University is a Military Friendly School (MFS) and Yellow Ribbon school that accepts the post-9/11 GI Bill®.
Career Opportunities after Earning an Online Bachelor’s Degree
The digital age has not only transformed how we learn but also how we apply that learning in the professional world. As more individuals turn to online education, the question arises: “What doors does an online bachelor’s degree open in the job market?” Drawing from insights shared by experts at National University and beyond, let’s delve into the promising career landscape that awaits online degree holders.
Diverse Job Roles Awaiting Online Graduates
The beauty of an online bachelor’s degree is its applicability across a myriad of roles. From marketing managers harnessing the power of digital strategies to IT specialists ensuring seamless tech operations, the possibilities are vast. “Our graduates have ventured into roles as diverse as their courses,” shares Kelly Kephart. “From healthcare administrators to financial analysts, educators to entrepreneurs, the spectrum is broad and ever-evolving.”
Thriving Industries Seeking Online Degree Holders
The value of an online degree is recognized across industries. Tech, healthcare, financial firms, and even non-profits are on the lookout for individuals who’ve demonstrated the discipline and adaptability that online learning demands. “It’s not just about the knowledge gained,” Kephart points out. “It’s also about the resilience, self-motivation, and digital proficiency that online students bring to the table.” Industries such as e-commerce, digital marketing, telehealth, and remote project management, in particular, are showing increased interest in graduates with online educational backgrounds.
The Value of an Online Degree in Today’s Job Market
There was a time when online degrees were met with skepticism. Those days are long gone. Today, employers recognize and appreciate the rigor of accredited online programs. More than the medium of education, they value the skills and competencies that candidates showcase. “An online degree from a reputable institution like National University is a testament to a student’s dedication, adaptability, and ability to thrive in a digital environment,” Kephart emphasizes.
Moreover, the global shift towards remote work in some industries has further elevated the stature of online degrees. Employers now seek individuals who can navigate digital platforms with ease, collaborate virtually, and manage tasks independently — all skills honed during an online education journey.
Online Degree Programs at National University
San Diego’s largest nonprofit university, National University, enrolls students from around the U.S. and the world. Kephart says business and healthcare programs are especially popular with online students. However, with more than 100 areas of study, someone interested in earning an online degree is sure to find an option to fit their professional goals. If attending college online sounds right for you, learn more about the programs we offer here.
Thanks to Kelly Kephart for serving as our expert. Kephart has been with NU admissions for just over a year and was recently promoted to the counselor position from enrollment advisor. She helps train new advisors and helps center directors manage the online team. She’s also an NU student, now in her fifth class of the Masters in Marketing. On the weekends, Kephart enjoys sailing in San Diego Bay and spending time traveling or with family and friends.
Frequently Asked Questions
Absolutely. Online degrees, especially from accredited institutions like National University, are widely recognized and valued in today’s job market. Employers today understand the rigor and discipline required for online learning. As the world shifts more towards digital operations, the skills honed during online education are becoming increasingly sought after.
Synchronous courses are those where students and instructors are online at the same time. Lectures, discussions, and presentations occur at set times, much like a traditional classroom, but via digital platforms. Asynchronous courses, on the other hand, allow students to access course materials on their own schedule. While there may be deadlines for assignments and exams, there are no set “class times.”
For a smooth online learning experience, students typically need:
- A reliable computer (desktop or laptop) with updated software.
- A stable internet connection, preferably high-speed.
- Basic software like word processors, spreadsheet programs, and presentation software.
- A webcam and microphone for video conferencing and discussions.
- Access to the university’s online learning management system or platform.
Yes, online courses offer multiple avenues for interaction. From discussion boards and group projects to video conferences and virtual office hours, there are plenty of opportunities to connect.