Even though it’s 2010 and online technology has been a part of our lives for a while now, it’s not uncommon for some prospective students to be a little apprehensive about online degree programs simply because they’re not sure how the programs work. However, the bottom line is simple: Everything happens at your convenience.
An online biology degree program is designed to teach you what you need to know to work in the field, and to let you work in the comfort and convenience of your own home. Every online college or university is different, but all share the same basic class structure that will require you to log in to the school’s system via your home computer in order to monitor your assignments, download any relevant material or notes, participate in chat sessions with fellow students, and even upload your completed work to be graded by your instructor.
Additionally, most online degree programs are asynchronous; in other words, there is no predetermined time when you will be required to log in. Rather, aside from due dates for major papers or tests, it’s entirely up to the student to decide when to log in and complete the work, which makes for a rare level of independence and flexibility in higher education. However, some online programs do require simultaneous logging in (for instance, if the instructor’s streaming a live video lecture), so be sure to check with your school about their set-up before committing to a degree plan or specific class.
It’s also a good idea to remember that online degree programs can vary in length based on the degree plan you choose and how quickly you opt to finish some of the work. For example, a bachelor’s degree might require 180 credit hours, but an associate’s degree in the same field might only want 90 credit hours, and on top of that, the amount of classes you take per semester or quarter will vary based on your schedule and personal tastes. However, if you’re working full-time and plan on attaining an online degree in your spare time, it’s a good idea to allot two or three years for your degree plan, though again, that number might change later on.
The truth about online degree programs is that they’re just that: online programs. Whatever work you need to submit or receive will be done online. Communicating with other students will be done via instant messaging programs or other chat options. Contacting your professor will be accomplished largely via e-mail. If you’ve ever used a computer, you already know how online colleges work.