Return to School – From the Comforts of Home

Return to School – From the Comforts of Home

More professionals are learning online and on the go as a way to get ahead.

Gone are the days when education was a one-and-done investment that carried you through a lifelong career. We now live in a fast-paced, global society that is constantly evolving, and lifelong learning is necessary just to stay relevant. When done right, additional education can strengthen your talents and skills, which could help advance your career. Despite the potential benefits, however, not everyone has the time or resources to go back to school – even on a part-time basis.

Thankfully, there’s another solution. Online learning, or learning on the go, makes it possible for busy professionals like you to take classes on your own terms. From podcasts to online courses, the resources are plentiful, and many of them cost very little or nothing at all. Best of all, you can boost your skill set and strengthen your knowledge base from the comfort of your living room.

That’s good news for individuals with a full-time job, anyone not willing to give up their precious time and parents like Amanda Tutlewski. With two young children, a long daily commute and an anticipated move for her spouse’s job, she knew that on-campus classes to complete a master’s degree in nursing simply didn’t make sense. Instead, she enrolled in the online program at Simmons University, and kept right on going when the family relocated.

Explore your options

Whether you’re pursuing an advanced degree or you simply want to learn something new, there’s a good chance you’ll find the online course or courses you’re looking for. Want to be a better negotiator? Check. Looking to enhance your leadership skills? Check. Learn to code, design a brochure or nail your public speaking gig? Check, check, check! The biggest challenge may be figuring out how to sort through the many options.

Some popular choices to consider:

  • Coursera
  • LinkedIn Learning
  • Khan Academy
  • edX
  • HP Life
  • Udemy
  • Udacity
  • Code Cademy
  • Small Business Administration

Buyer beware

While it’s hard not to be attracted to the low price tag, convenience and built-in flexibility of online learning, keep in mind that it’s not for everyone. Some people prefer, or even need, the face-to-face interaction and relationship-building that comes with the traditional, in-person method. The biggest hurdle, however, may be the extreme amount of self-discipline required to master the coursework. This is no place for procrastinators. You’ll need top-notch time management and organizational skills to balance the workload with your other responsibilities.

Do your homework

Your time is valuable, so it’s important to choose a class that meets your needs.

Read the course description. Some descriptions include a short video that offers a peek into the coursework. Find out who’s teaching the course or where the material originated, and then verify the qualifications of that person or institution.

Read the reviews. Check out what previous learners are saying about the course or get course recommendations from people you know and trust. This helps to ensure you’re getting the quality instruction you’d expect.

Verify the fees. Not all online courses are free. Before you sign up, it helps to weigh any costs with potential benefits.

Identify the skills you need. It’s okay to learn for the sake of learning, but if you want to advance your career beyond the next level, it only makes sense to invest your time in classes that will help you accomplish that goal. Ask your supervisor about the skills you need to strengthen to help you select the right courses.

Next steps

Before you power up your computer, consider:

  • Which skills could help advance your career
  • Asking your advisor about budgeting money for tuition, books and supplies, if necessary

Sources: utep.edu; kickresume.com; themuse.com; businessnewsdaily.com; petersons.com; usnews.com; coursera.org; linkedin.com; khanacademy.org; edX.org; life-global.org; udemy.com; udacity.com; codecademy.com; sba.gov