online learning in parkFor some of us, getting a higher education through an online university may be the only way to achieve our goals. But can you really juggle work, family and learning all at the same time?

Beware that it won’t be easy, however, finally getting that JD or Masters that you always wanted can be extremely rewarding and best of all, very affordable. On the other hand, it could be a total waste of time and money if you realize half-way through that you are just not cut out for this and decide to quit.

5 Questions To Ask Yourself If You Are Considering An Online Degree:

  1. Have you ever worked from home in your professional life? If yes, was it a positive experience? Was your boss pleased with your results? Or, did it end badly? If your past experience with working from home was successful, you will be much more likely to be able to study from home successfully. And if not, figure out what went wrong so that your home-study experience won’t fall into the same traps.
  2. Do you have a study room where you can be alone and shut the door? This will be crucial for your success. Hopefully it’s not your bedroom, but if you must set up a workstation there, it’s still better than nothing. If your only option is to study in a room open to the rest of the family, try a folding screen room divider around your desk. Or, consider regular visits to libraries or a nearby family member’s home to set up a secondary study space.
  3. How supportive will your family be when you are not available for them? Sure, your partner tells you now that they will support you in every way possible, but once they experience the long hours you have to put in, year after year, will they be able to deal with it? If you have young children, can they manage with less help for homework and other things? Your commitment to your studies could have a negative impact on your kids’ education unless you carefully plan ahead.
  4. Are you being realistic about how long your education will take? Recognize now that you could have a setback along the way such as a death or illness in the family or other significant event where you may have to take some time off from your schooling. How would this affect your long-range plan? Are you prepared to re-take state exams should you not pass the first time? Suddenly a four year program could easily turn into 5 years or more.
  5. Will the lack of social bonding allow you to cope with the loneliness that comes with online learning? Despite the availability of virtual study-groups, video sessions and text chats, there will be frequent times during your online studies when you will feel completely alone. You will need to deal with this isolation. Taking advantage of all the virtual activities that your school offers will help so participate as actively as possible. And remember to make some time to do things with your friends and family – don’t just be in study mode 24/7 – that can lead to burnout.

Obtaining your degree online can be a fabulous experience. The technology is here and the quality of online education keeps on getting better. If you are well prepared to avoid the pitfalls, your chance of success will increase dramatically. I know, because I’ve done it and I have achieved my dream of getting my JD degree online within a 4 year period through Northwestern California University School of Law while working full time and looking after my family. With some careful planning you can do it too!

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