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6 questions to ask when researching online courses

Written by Ashworth College on Wednesday, 18 April 2018. Posted in Online College

6 questions to ask when researching online courses

You’re currently balancing job, family, kids, taking care of parents, and the loving care and feeding of one dog, two cats, and a goldfish. But for all that, you’ve decided to consider online courses to take that next big life step.

First of all, kudos! Not everyone has your drive. That glint of determination in your eye inspires us. Employers are also taking notice of people like you in a big way. According to a 2013 survey, many employers believe that getting an online degree requires the same or even more discipline than a traditional degree.

Based on our experience helping tens of thousands of students earn online college degrees, career diplomas, and career certificates, here are the six most important questions to consider as you research online courses. Above all, choose an online course that fits your life and your goals.

1. Does the school offer the online courses I’m interested in pursuing and the right staff and experts to make it useful in the real world?

Compare and contrast the program of study you want across several online schools. Look to see how many and what type of courses are offered in the areas you want to pursue.

Browsing faculty listings is a great way to find out what sort of expertise they bring to a program. Are the online faculty credentialed in the specialty area they teach? Most important, do they have real-world experience?

2. Will the online courses I’ll take be backed up by an approach to learning that will help me succeed?

Even the most committed student needs help. Creating time to focus on school in addition to other commitments is challenging. Where will you find the time?

Look for an online school that allows you to customize your studies in a way that fits your life.  For example, many Ashworth College students already work full-time and have family and outside commitments. They love that there are no pre-scheduled classes or exams, no group projects, and no due dates.

If you have a complicated schedule, make sure the online courses you select allow you to fit your learning around your life--not the other way around.

It's not asking too much to have access to teachers and staff that want to support you on this journey. Ask admissions how the school you’re considering helps students with busy lives succeed.

3. What are the costs involved?

Don’t borrow thousands of dollars from your future self. Online courses make degrees accessible and affordable to more people. One of the reasons many people choose online colleges is to avoid the financial debt often incurred with traditional brick-and-mortar schools. Ask about hidden costs, such as “Do I have to pay extra for books or supplies? What sort of software or equipment is needed for me to complete my program? Does the online school help with internships?"

Bonus tip: Go beyond just money when considering costs, however, and ask yourself how much time you can afford to devote to your program, how much academic help is available to you, and is the program flexible enough to meet your needs.

4. Will an employer recognize my degree?

A growing economy and low unemployment are encouraging employers across the spectrum of industries to take a serious look at online certificate and degree earners. Small business owners create a lot of jobs. They are looking for people with the ability to juggle family, job, and other life demands.

Earning things such as a career certificate is increasingly seen as a bonus. Ask your boss or someone you know that’s in a hiring position what they think. Would they promote someone who showed up with a completed certificate for high-demand skills?

5. Is this school nationally accredited?

There are quite a few accrediting entities for online colleges and universities in the United States. Accreditation ensures quality. Don’t consider a school that isn’t nationally accredited because you may not get the quality you expect or deserve.

Ashworth College is a nationally-accredited online college. All of our career diploma, certificate, and degree programs are accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC) which is listed by the U.S. Department of Education as a nationally recognized accrediting agency.

6. Am I the right sort of student for online courses?

This is the most important question of all because only you know the answer. The fact that you are here reading this blog means the inner desire and drive is already present. But to be ready to press into larger life goals and work past doubts and barriers requires an extra push.

  • Do you want to improve your life by growing in a job and earning more money?
  • Are you tired of focusing on "Why I can't," and ready instead to focus on "Why I can!"?
  • Do you believe that your past does not have to determine your future?

Yes? Okay, get started!  Whether you’re just starting out or pursuing your next career goal, flexible, affordable career educations out there. There are approximately 5.8 million students nationally taking online courses. And every one of them is unique in their reasons for doing so.

They’re doing it. You can, too.

About the Author

Ashworth College

Ashworth College

Our community is full of independent, motivated, growth-focused students. Dive into our blog to explore diverse stories from our students, friends, experts, and executives. From tips & tricks to student experiences and alumni stories, the Ashworth Blog is all about celebrating our community's accomplishments and passions.

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Career When Hard Work Isn’t Enough, Here’s What You Need to Succeed

You’ve been studying hard and working towards that 4.0 GPA. But, is that what employers will care about most? While good grades will get you far on your career journey, soft skills can get you even further. Excellent grades don't guarantee spot on performance, but developing soft skills can show potential employers that you have what it takes to adapt, learn, and confidently take on new tasks as they’re given to you. In fact, 31% of teachers think it’s more important to develop soft skills. Here are the skills you need to impress employers.

Succeed with a strong work ethic

Companies across the United States are finding it difficult to find applicants with soft skills, according to the Wall Street Journal. Some skills are difficult to teach and work ethic is one of them. Employers will be impressed if you possess this skill right from the start. Having a strong work ethic means you’re organized, timely, and dedicated. But, that’s not all. Work ethic also means you budget your time wisely while being able to work independently or with a team. Either way, you can be trusted to get the job done every time and without excuses.

Think outside of the box

Employers want candidates with critical thinking and problem-solving skills. That means you need to be creative and curious. Stand out from other applicants by showing you can make informed decisions and analyze situations. No matter the field, you’ll need to think critically and understand problems while providing solutions. You’ll also need to adapt to new challenges and take ownership of problems as they arise. Thinking outside of the box can go a long way. Set yourself apart by approaching challenges in a critical way through analysis, open-mindedness, and creativity.

Communication is key

Communication skills go beyond talking. To be a good communicator you need to be able to effectively articulate your needs and also listen to the needs of others. Employers look for candidates who can communicate their ideas and receive the ideas of their coworkers with an open mind. No matter the career, you’ll need to communicate with coworkers, clients, customers, or vendors. As an employee, you may find yourself discussing problems, giving instructions, and working in teams. Being able to do so effectively can help you advance your career. By bringing forth clear ideas, plans, and processes for how to improve goods or services in your company in an easy to understand manner, you'll show your employer how invested you are in what you do.

There’s no “I” in team

Teamwork really does make the dream work, and employers recognize that. That’s why employers look for candidates who work well with others. As an employee you’ll often work with your colleagues on projects and you may not always see eye to eye. Being part of a team doesn’t just mean working together. It also means you give and receive feedback and constructive criticism. Collaboration skills are essential and employers look for candidates who can work independently while also contributing to overall team goals.

Spread positivity

A smile goes a long way. While you may not think a positive attitude is the key to succeeding in the workforce, employers are genuinely interested in candidates who are optimistic and are refreshing to be around. As an employee, you should be friendly and eager to work. It’s especially important to remain positive in a less than ideal work environments. Your enthusiasm, patience, and overall energy won’t go unnoticed.

Go beyond your grade

While a high GPA is certainly something to celebrate, remember that employers are looking beyond your grade when considering you for a position at their company. Job candidates who can think outside of the box, understand teamwork, can come up with creative solutions, and possess leadership skills are in demand. Work to strengthen these skills like you would any other lesson you learn at school. With hard work and a dynamite set of soft skills you can succeed in work you’re passionate about!

woman walking down a road

Career Career Programs You Can Start & Finish This Year

If you’re ready for your next career adventure or if you’re looking for something new and exciting on your current career path, you don’t have to take the long road. Ashworth is here to help you embark on your journey towards a rewarding career. Here are 10 programs you can start and finish this year.

Child Care Provider

The need for child care providers is increasing. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 1,298,700 people will be employed as child care providers by 2026. Parents rely on child care providers to help keep their kids safe while also aiding in their intellectual growth. As a child care provider you may work in a daycare center, before- or after-school program, preschool, or home visit. Through our Child Care Provider Career Diploma program, you’ll develop skills to care for children from birth to school age in as little as four months.

Upon completion of the program, you’ll become a member of the National Association of Family Child Care (NAFCC).

Medical Billing and Coding

Learn in-demand skills with our online Medical Billing and Coding Career Certificate. This program will help prepare you for work in doctor’s offices, medical practices, hospitals, and clinics. With a growing aging population that requires medical treatment, medical billing career opportunities are expected to grow by 13% by 2026 according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

You’ll learn the responsibilities of a medical biller/coder, the purpose of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), billing guidelines for medical needs, the life cycle of insurance claims, and the need for accurately coding diagnoses and procedures using industry-standard coding systems.

Heating and Air Conditioning

Commercial and residential buildings require HVAC systems, leaving a need for qualified professionals to install, maintain, and replace those systems. In our online Heating and Air Conditioning Career Diploma program, you’ll learn skills such as how to identify systems and components used for heating and air conditioning, understand standard installation procedures, and troubleshoot and maintain HVAC installations and commercial refrigeration in as little as four months.

This program also offers students the opportunity to complete the EPA 608 Certification Exam.

Bookkeeping

If you’re interested in financial data, spreadsheets, and statistical reporting then a career in bookkeeping may be for you. Our online Bookkeeping Career Diploma program will help prepare you to meet entry-level bookkeeping needs for businesses of all sizes. You’ll learn the basics of bookkeeping and accounting practices, to explain the concepts of cash and accrual accounting, to prepare payroll transactions, and assist in basic internal controls to prevent theft, embezzlement, and check and credit card fraud.

Dog Obedience Trainer

If you have a furry friend who you trained or if you enjoy helping friends train their new pet then you might want to consider starting our online Dog Obedience Trainer Career Diploma program. As dog owners seek help training their pets, animal trainer careers are expected to grow 20% by 2026, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. In this program, you’ll learn the roles and responsibilities of dog trainers, different breed characteristics, problem behaviors, and critical periods of dog behavior in as little as four months.

Event Planning

If you’re detail oriented, organized, and enjoy working with people then you may want to consider a career as an event planner. In our Event Planning Career Diploma program, you’ll learn the role of an event planner, the importance of the interview process and how to determine the budget, size, and style of events, how to plan various events, such as birthdays, religious celebrations, showers, and more, and business considerations involved in running an event planning business.

Enrollment in this program also comes with a one-year student membership to Meeting Professionals International.

Graphic Design

If you have a love for art and design and want to turn your passion into a rewarding career then our online Graphic Design Career Diploma program may be right for you. In this program, you’ll learn the elements and principles of design and how to apply them to print and web projects. You’ll also learn to use graphics software from Adobe Creative Cloud®, including Photoshop®, Illustrator®, InDesign®, Muse®, and Edge Animate®.

Retail Management

If you’re looking to enhance your resume and are interested in being in a role that combines leadership and interpersonal skills with sales knowledge, then consider enrolling in our online Retail Management Career Diploma program. Growth in managerial roles in expected to increase with 77,300 new jobs expected for first-line supervisors of retail sales workers by 2026, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. In this program, you’ll learn the basics of retail management and merchandising, including organizational structure and key positions, growth and expansion, consumer communication, and merchandise layout and presentation.

Wedding Planner

You love love and you’re a people person, but most importantly, you enjoy planning parties. Newly engaged couples often seek the help of professionals to plan their big day. By enrolling in our Wedding Planner Career Diploma program you can turn your love for love into a career. You’ll learn the role of a professional wedding planner, wedding customs, rituals, and traditions, planning wedding events, including parties, showers, and ceremonies, and how to run a wedding planning business.

In this program, you’ll also receive a one-year membership for the Association of Bridal Consultants® (ABC).

Small Business Management

Whether you’re interested in launching a home-based business or opening your own store, the Small Business Management Career Diploma may be right for you. In as little as four months, you’ll learn how to plan, structure, and run a small business. You’ll cover topics such as business plan development, sales and marketing basics, and the fundamentals of small business accounting and finance.

Why Ashworth?

Ashworth programs are self-paced and available online, allowing you to study when and where you want.

When you enroll you’ll have access to your Student Portal dashboard, which provides instant access to your lessons and support. You’ll also join an active online community of students, staff, and alumni.

Contact Ashworth to start your journey towards finishing your program this year.

What Kinds of Jobs Can You Get with an Associate Degree in Early Childhood Education?

Career What Kinds of Jobs Can You Get with an Associate Degree in Early Childhood Education?

An online Associate Degree in Early Childhood Education is designed for aspiring educators who want to develop a career focused on teaching children age 4 and younger. Though you may have stayed at home with a sitter or guardian, or attended a loosely-programmed preschool or play group at that age, it’s now the 2010s and expectations for life pre-K now include structured education by teachers who have earned degrees specifically for this field.

Become a preschool teacher

If you have a heart for little kids and patience to boot, consider earning your online Associate Degree and preparing for a job as a preschool teacher! The main goal of preschool is for toddlers to gain language, motor, and social skills while having lots and lots of fun.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the need for preschool teachers is projected to increase 10% between 2016 and 2026.* That’s a faster-than-average growth projection for all occupations during the same time period. Since the typical requirement for launching a career as a preschool teacher is the completion of an Associate Degree, that leaves plenty of time to get started, graduate, and secure a position in this growing field.

Positions for preschool teachers are available through Head Start programs, private early childhood education centers, churches and faith-based schools, as well as through tutoring, nannying, and at-home childcare services.

The need for preschool teachers is projected to increase 10% between 2016 and 2026—a faster than average growth for all jobs!

Bilingual or want to be? Teach ELLs or become an au pair

As more school systems throughout the U.S. enroll first-generation citizens from non-English-speaking homes, there’s a growing need for trained teachers who can help the youngest of students learn English. Becoming a preschool teacher who works with English Language Learners (ELLs) is a unique way to apply your passion for ECE to a demographic of children who can greatly benefit from your language skills.

If private childcare and teaching is more your style—and you have a sense of adventure—use your ECE degree to become an au pair for a family outside the U.S., or nanny for a foreign family that’s recently moved to the U.S. In both situations, your training will bolster the children’s English-speaking skills and you’ll gain a world of knowledge about another culture.

Ready to learn how to play with purpose? Check out the curriculum of our Associate Degree in Early Childhood Education. Or practice your ABCs and enroll today!

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Preschool Teachers, on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/preschool-teachers.htm (visited October 31, 2018).

 
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