The world of IT is constantly growing. According to the most recent information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the expected growth across IT occupations from 2021 to 2031 is 15%, much higher than average. The average wage for this group is close to $100,000, meaning these are lucrative and high-demand careers.
Yet, in order to have a career in IT, you will need the proper training. Returning to school can feel daunting, especially if you are already working or have family responsibilities. Online degree programs offer a measure of flexibility to make this career path possible, even for busy working adults. However, they aren’t for everyone.
When considering an IT degree, many options are available to you. Because this field is so tech-heavy, it lends itself well to online and hybrid programs. When deciding between an online or on-campus program, you may feel stuck wondering which one is right for you. Before signing up for an online IT degree, avoid these five common mistakes.
1. Not Analyzing Whether Online Is the Best Route for Your Information Technology Degree
Online education carries many benefits for learners. It can be more flexible than traditional classes, giving you the freedom to work full-time while also pursuing your degree. Studying online can also give you the freedom to attend an out-of-state school without having to move. It can provide you with automatic IT education because you will be relying on tech to get your degree. When you log in and get to know the software for your online education platform, you are getting a hands-on education in information technology.
However, it’s not suitable for everyone. You will need a decent amount of self-motivation to study online. Without the accountability of attending class every week, you may miss deadlines and fall behind. Online education’s flexibility can be a downside for some students.
Online is an excellent choice for an IT degree, but it may not be the right choice for you. Take the time to evaluate your needs and the benefits or drawbacks of studying online to see if it will make the most sense for you and your unique situation.
2. Not Being Able to Handle the Workload Behind Online IT Schooling
As you consider your online degree, know that you will spend approximately the same amount of time and energy on your schooling with an online degree as you would with a traditional one. This adds up to about 15 hours a week per three-credit course. You should only take on what your time and schedule allow you to accomplish.
In other words, pursuing an online degree is not a shortcut to an education. You will still need to put in the time and energy to make your education successful. While you will have flexibility, you will still need a strong work ethic. You’ll also have less daily accountability in class, so you will need to be a self-motivated learner.
If you are pursuing an online degree because you need the flexibility to study on your own time, make sure you have the time and motivation to do that studying. You know your work ethic and the demands on your schedule. While an online IT degree is more flexible, it does not eliminate the need to do work. Make sure you are able and willing to take on the workload of an online degree program.
3. Failing to Ask for Help When You Have a Question
When you go to class in person, raising your hand to ask a question makes sense. When you attend school online, you don’t interact with your classmates and professors in person. This can make it more challenging to ask for help when needed. Yet if you don't ask for help, you will struggle to learn.
If you are taking classes online, you may feel a little isolated from the group. This isolation is one of the drawbacks of online education, which you need to combat proactively. If you are having tech issues, ask classmates for help, and if you don’t understand a concept, email or text the professor to get assistance.
Be willing to take advantage of online chat groups, email, and forums. Ask the appropriate people for help when you need it. Even if you think they might consider the question “dumb,” ask anyway. You are investing your money and time into your online information technology degree, and you deserve to make the most out of it, not get stuck because you don’t understand something or have a tech issue.
4. Ignoring the Importance of Participation
Online degree programs are built around participation. Many professors will have a participation grade woven into their programs. You may be expected to participate in online discussions and groups in addition to your projects and coursework.
Through this participation, you will learn a significant amount of the information you need for success. Dive in, and make the most of your participation, which will help you benefit from your degree.
Participation also allows you to start building your professional network, another perk of earning your degree. Spending time engaging in the online community you have access to through your education is a critical part of earning your degree, so be an active participant. You will gain a network of fellow IT professionals, and you will learn more from your degree program at the same time.
5. Thinking Online IT School Work will Be Easier than In-Person Classes
Finally, you must decide if you can handle an online IT education’s workload. Many students make the mistake of assuming an online degree is easier. While it may be easier because it provides more flexibility, the workload will be the same as a traditional degree. Some online programs are more challenging or time-consuming because the teachers focus more on project-based learning than lecture-based learning, so you need to be ready for the challenge. No matter how you look at it, online education is not a degree shortcut.
As previously mentioned, you should plan to spend about 15 hours a week per three-credit course on your online education. This includes time watching lectures, working on homework and projects, and participating in the online community. The work will be just as challenging, if not more so, than the work in a traditional classroom. Expect projects, papers, and assignments that allow you to demonstrate your knowledge gained in the program.
Do not take an online degree program in any field if you are looking for an easy solution to your education. Only pursue online education if you feel you are up for the challenging workload. The rewards are worthwhile, but if you can’t keep up with the work, you will be wasting money on a failed degree.
Find the Flexibility of an Online IT Degree with University of the Cumberlands
If you feel you have what it takes to succeed in an online IT degree program, you need to find the right one. University of the Cumberlands offers several flexible online IT bachelor’s degree programs that will challenge you while providing the flexibility you need. Check out these degrees to find one that fits your needs well. You can also use our Find Your Program page to request more information about the program you want to pursue. With University of the Cumberlands, you can have an excellent education without leaving home through our online degree programs.