If you’re considering earning a graduate degree online, it’s normal to be a bit apprehensive. Perhaps it’s been a long time since you wrote a paper – or you’ve never studied fully online before. Or maybe you’re concerned about fitting your schoolwork into your already busy schedule.
As a Jesuit institution of higher learning, Creighton University is committed to empowering you in your educational journey and helping you find your vocation. While online programs aren’t ideal for everyone, there are some serious advantages to distance learning. You might be surprised to realize you already have many of the skills and experiences needed to thrive in an online learning environment.
The ultimate decision on whether or not to pursue a graduate degree online lies with you. So, to assist you in your evaluation, we’ve compiled our top consideration points to help you assess your grad school readiness. Keep reading to discover five signs you’re likely to thrive as an online graduate student.
You’re suited for success in an online graduate program if …
1. You miss learning – and crave new challenges
While self-teaching is a completely valid way to develop new skills, there’s nothing quite like learning alongside others and having a subject matter expert to guide you through difficult concepts. If you miss being in a structured learning environment with likeminded peers, grad school might be the perfect next step.
At Creighton University, you can rest assured that the online degree you earn is just as rigorous and enriching as the in-person equivalent. As a pioneer in distance learning, we started offering entirely online programs more than a decade ago.
“We are very comfortable teaching virtually because we’ve had a long time to practice,” says Dr. Elizabeth Churchich, Director of Graduate and Adult Recruitment at Creighton University. “You can’t just take an in-person class and do it all on Zoom and expect the same results.”
The online programs offered at Creighton are built around intentional learning experiences, with a lot of thought put into how to engage with students and encourage collaboration with their classmates. If you enjoy learning alongside others and being challenged by diverse perspectives, but still need a flexible option to fit within your busy schedule, an online graduate program is an ideal fit for you.
2. You know exactly what you want to study
Most graduate students go to school part-time, which means they’ll be jugging work and a personal life in addition to studying for multiple years. One of the biggest benefits of online learning is the ability to make your own schedule and study at your own pace.
But no matter how dedicated and organized you are, there will likely be times when you find yourself stretched thin. That’s why it’s important to be truly passionate about your chosen field of study – that enthusiasm will keep you going when life gets stressful.
Unlike being an undergrad, where many students enroll simply because their family expects them to, most grad students are there to pursue their passion or purpose. “Everybody who enrolls in a graduate program is doing so intentionally,” Dr. Churchich explains. “It’s a personal choice, which means everyone in your class wants to be there and learn from each other.”
3. You have the basic computer skills needed to get started.
Many people assume you have to be a technology whiz to pursue a graduate degree online, but this is just not the case. Rest assured that if you can operate a smartphone, tablet or laptop, you already have most of the skills you’ll need to dominate distance learning.
Digital communication has become second nature for most people, thanks to email, video chats and social media platforms. Communicating with your instructors and classmates will feel very similar to these types of activities.
And if you should encounter any technical issues, most institutions have the tools and resources you need to overcome any challenges. Creighton University, for example, offers comprehensive technology support through their Division of Information Technology.
4. You know how to get your finances in order to pay for school
It’s no secret that higher education is a significant investment of time, effort and of course – money. Paying for grad school can seem like a daunting task, but students are often surprised to discover resources outside of FAFSA that they hadn’t ever considered. Whether you’re looking for employer tuition benefits, industry and trade scholarships or a fellowship, do some research before committing to a program.
Most students are able to piece together multiple methods of financial aid and support to lower their out-of-pocket costs considerably. For a more complete list of financial aid advice and resources, check out our article “How to Pay for Graduate School.”
You can find help for all your tuition and finance questions through Creighton’s Financial Aid Office. They’re available to help you apply for federal aid, find available graduate scholarships and can even point you in the direction of practical personal finance resources.
5. You have clear goals for using your degree after graduation
Whether you’re planning a career change or are working to advance in your current field, it’s essential to define your grad school goals for yourself. The time and energy invested in this accomplishment could change the trajectory of your personal and professional life. Staying focused on your end goal will help motivate you when things get stressful.
“It will be difficult sometimes, online or in person,” Dr. Churchich acknowledges. “If a student comes in with a vision of why they’re earning that degree, they are so much more likely to push through the hard moments.”
Peruse our graduate student success stories to gather inspiration from others whose advanced degrees helped them achieve their career goals.
Find success in an online graduate program
After reviewing the information outlined above, you might be realizing you’re better equipped than you thought to earn a graduate degree online. The key to being successful is finding a school with an atmosphere of support and excellence to help you achieve your goals.
You’ll find this academic environment in any of the dozens of online graduate programs offered at Creighton University, which is why it’s consistently recognized among the best online programs.
If you’ve determined you’re ready to take on the challenge of earning a graduate degree online, explore our programs to find the one that will help you achieve your goals.