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The Online University Degree: Flexible But Not One Size Fits All

The Online University Degree: Flexible But Not One Size Fits All

by Nicole Runyon
June 30, 2016

The online university degree has helped to make higher education available worldwide. It has helped many pursue goals and dreams however no two programs are alike. It’s critical for learners to ask the right questions and conduct research to find the program that is the best fit.

The online university degree allows individuals who might not have had access to higher education to achieve their dreams. In generations past, in order to earn a degree you needed to live near or move to the town of the school that you attended. For many, this wasn’t possible and they had to miss out on higher education opportunities. The following situations may have prevented them from attending college:

  • Family or work commitments preventing them from being able to commit to a set attendance schedule;
  • A lifestyle with unexpected demands like that of someone in the military;
  • Location: Those who live rurally or internationally who don’t have local access;
  • Extensive travel due to personal or professional commitments

Flash forward to the 21st century where we now have online learning and accessibility to higher education throughout much of the modernized world. Online learning offers flexibility and opportunity to those who, for whatever reason, were not previously able to access it.

While there is flexibility in online learning, flexibility can vary by school and program. Some universities offer students to operate on a flexible timeline submitting assignments at their own pace as long as larger deadlines are being met. Other schools have weekly assignments and participation requirements. Yet others have synchronous learning requirements. Still others require a certain amount of residency requirements

As students explore online learning options, it’s important for them to consider their own needs and requirements with regard to flexibility. Questions students should ask before entering a program to earn an online university degree:

  • What learning management system is used?
  • How often do I need to participate in the class discussion?
  • Are there synchronous requirements?
  • Are there specific due dates?
  • What is the late policy?
  • Are there any residency requirements that require travel?
  • What parameters surround final examinations (Proctoring? Synchronous? Required at all?)?
  • What happens if student needs to take a leave of absence?
  • What is the expected workload per class per week?

By posing these questions as well as any questions that might be specific to the individual, learners can find a program that best fits their flexibility needs. While online university degrees are readily available, the reputable ones require hard work. There are many different program designs – it’s not one size fits all.


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Nicole Runyon has been been teaching online since 1998 and loves helping
adult learners find ways to achieve their goals and broaden their perspectives.
We are proud to have Nicole offer her mentoring services at The Babb Group,
take a moment to read Nicole's resume and service offerings

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Contact the author Dr. Nicole Runyon