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Online Education: Meeting Your New Year's Resolutions

Dec 27, 2007 Jennifer Williamson, Distance Education.org Columnist | 0 Comments

Some people find it easy to move forward and pursue an education, while others get stuck spinning their wheels. If you’ve been thinking about getting a degree for a long time, now may just be the time to get it done.  Here are a few tips to use in January to help you focus on your goals, overcome obstacles, and make 2008 your most successful year yet. 

Why do you want a degree?  Before you can know which online degree program to pursue, you have to know what you want.  If you could have any career you wanted—and money and time were no issue—where would you put yourself?  What excites you?  Once you have your dream pinned down, you can start taking concrete steps to get there.

It’s important to keep your dream in front of you all the time.  Look through magazines and cut out a picture of the way you picture your new career or life to be—or simply write your dream down on a piece of paper.  Put your picture or paper somewhere you’ll see it every day: in your wallet, on your bathroom mirror, or on your refrigerator.  This way, you’ll never lose sight of your goal.

Which degree works best for you?  Do a little research into how people get this type of job.  Do professionals in this career path need a Bachelor’s, or will an Associate’s degree do just as well?  Will you need postgraduate education, such as a Master’s or a Ph.D?  How about professional certification?

Check out the Bureau of Labor Statistics for an easy way to research your dream job.  Just type the job title into the search box. This site gives you access to educational requirement information for a wide variety of jobs, as well as information on average earnings, job outlook, and working conditions.

See Also: Online College Reviews

Investigate online schools.  Once you’ve decided on a degree program that will help you get where you want to go, it’s time to look at online schools.  Use our degree search feature to find out which schools are offering the degree you’re looking for.  Choose a few schools that offer the right program for the right price, and start researching and asking questions.  Here are a few things you should find out about online schools during the research process:

  • What is the school’s accreditation?
  • How long will it take me to complete my degree?
  • What qualifications do your professors have?
  • Can this school help me meet state-specific requirements for my career?
  • Does this program include professional certifications I need?
  • Can I transfer credits from another program to this school?
  • What is this school’s policy on life experience credits?
  • Does this school offer grants and scholarships? How do I apply?


Investigate your funding options.  Many people put off an education because they think they can’t afford it.  But an education may be more affordable than you think.  Does your current employer have a tuition reimbursement program?  Do you belong to any fraternal orders, community or religious groups that offer scholarships to members?  Does your state offer grants to adult students?  Look around and try to find at least a few possible sources of grants and scholarships—money for school you don’t have to pay back.  In addition, you’ll need to fill out the FAFSA for government financial aid when you apply to a school.

Think small, achievable steps. If you find yourself getting frustrated and quitting before you achieve your goals, it’s not because you’re a failure—it’s because you’re not setting the right goals. If you put too much pressure on yourself, you’re just setting yourself up for failure. 

It’s important to keep your end goal in mind, but it’s equally important to break your path down into the smallest, most easily achievable steps you can.  You can’t earn an entire Bachelor’s degree in 2008—but you can research online schools, set a goal to contact ten schools about their programs, talk to your boss about tuition reimbursement, and enroll in a program for the coming school year. 

Do one small thing every day to keep moving forward.  Not every day will bring great achievements.  Life can get in the way of your goals, especially if you’re working full-time or taking care of a family.  But you should be able to find time most days to do one small thing in pursuit of your goal—even if it’s just requesting further information from an online school.  Those little things you do add up, so keep at them.

Your dream job might look far away—but you can do a few small things each week to bring it a little closer.  Break your end goal down into small, easy steps, and do one small thing to move forward each day—and you may find yourself succeeding sooner than you think. 

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