Online courses are popular and plentiful. Perhaps much of their success is based on the fact that so many people want to study, but need to be able to do it in a way which will work alongside busy lives filled with commitments. It can be beneficial in progressing with your current career, and if you want a career change, online learning can make this possible too – it’s never too late to pick up new skills which can equip you to do the job of your dreams. If you’ve been thinking about taking up an online programme, follow our handy checklist to help you find the right course for you:
- Do plenty of research. There are so many courses out there to choose from, so it’s best to get the full picture before settling for one.
- Go to open days and events. If you’re studying via an institution, they’ll often hold events where you can go along and meet the people who run the course. This is a great way to get all of your questions answered and to meet the people who will be supporting you during your studies. Even if you’re studying online, you’re still likely to have a lot of contact with your institution, so meeting with them will be able to help you decide if it’s going to be the right decision for you.
- Consider specific skills which would be directly beneficial to you. It might be that there are certain areas where you’d like to learn more, or you’d like specific training in a certain kind of programme or software. Even if the course you want to study is more general, it’s still worth thinking about the kinds of things you’d like to be doing as part of it. Lots of courses will have the same titles but might incorporate different areas of study or modules.
- Work out how much time you have to dedicate to a course. Some will be more demanding than others, so the amount of time you have available to study will help you to filter down your options.
- Think about the level at which you’d like to study. This may largely rely on previous qualifications which you have. For example, to study a postgraduate distance learning course, you’ll usually need to have studied for a first degree or access course, or you’ll need a lot of relevant experience in your field.
- Have an aim in mind. Whether you want to gain a promotion, start a new job, begin your own business or enjoy learning something new, if you know what you want to get out of your course it gives you a head start in finding the perfect one for you.
- Consider your funding options. Some courses will be free and others will require either a one-off payment or regular instalments. Think about what you can afford to spend, or think about alternative ways of paying such as taking out a loan or asking an employer to fund you.