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Advancing Your Career through Online Education: How to Do it Right and Do it Well

This is a post by Sam Peters, a blogger who writes about careers and online education.

There are all sorts of ways to advance our careers, and for many people, receiving additional education, whether in the form of a certificate program, or full-on degree, is the best way to go about it. If you want to switch careers completely, going back to school may be absolutely necessary to get your foot in the door.

While online programs once carried a stigma, they are now considered a legitimate option for getting a degree. Attending a traditional campus may not be a feasible option for many would-be students, and getting an online education offers flexibility and convenience.

Balancing work, and any other responsibilities you may have, can be quite the challenge. This is particularly true for people who are hoping to advance their careers as quickly as possible, and plan on pursuing an accelerated program.

Without careful planning, your foray into the online education world can quickly go up in smoke. Here are some helpful tips for succeeding with your degree program, and advancing your career at the quicker pace you desire.

Checking Accreditation

If you choose a degree program without the proper accreditation, you will put quite the crimp in your career advancement plans, because the degree will be essentially worthless. While advances in technology, and its ever-increasing role in our lives, have naturally made online education a more accepted option, it has not quite reached the equal status of traditional campus degrees, and employers want to know it is a quality program.

Let’s take the accelerated programs at Gwynedd Mercy for example.  This school’s online programs are accredited by the US regional accrediting institutions such as the Middle States Association. This means they have met the stringent standards set forth by these authoritative bodies.  Some accreditations mean more than others, so always do a little background on the organizations behind them.

Nail Down Your ‘’Why’’

If going back to school is part of your career plan—an accelerated degree program means a lot of work in a short amount of time; we are not talking about one class a week over a period of three years. You are doing this because you want to quickly advance your career, but it will be all too easy to get lazy once the real work starts. But, there is an antidote to this common problem of online students, and it is getting 110 percent crystal clear about your ‘’why.’’ Why are getting this degree? What benefits do you expect it to bring you? Keep questioning your motivations until you reach the absolute core. If you want to work in a certain field or have a certain position, why? If you want more money, why? If you want to give your kids a better life, why? The more clarity you have about why you want the things you want, the easier it is to do the difficult work sometimes necessary to get these things.

Time Management 101

A whole book can be written on managing your time well, and many already have. But, here we will get just get  into some basics. The convenience and flexibility of online programs are one of their most appealing aspects, but they can also be the very thing that take you down if you lack strong self-motivation and discipline. And if you are pursuing an accelerated course, you are going to have a lot on your plate every day.

First and foremost, do not underestimate the power of writing things down. It brings order to the chaos floating around in your head, and you will be much more likely to do all the things you need to do. Write out a daily schedule in blocks of time—say 30 minutes or an hour. It may be necessary to reprioritize your life a bit while you are getting your degree. You may need to ease up on your insistence on cleaning your house top to bottom twice a week , or volunteering for every committee at your daughter’s school. Sacrifices will be necessary, but the perspective you take on these sacrifices will make all the difference in how easy it is to make them—remember your ‘’why.’’

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