5 questions to ask yourself before you earn an online degree.

With more and more schools offering online classes, it’s easier than ever to earn an online degree from a US college or university. But just because it’s available doesn’t mean it’s the best option for you. Ask yourself these five questions before you decide if an online degree is right for you:

1. What do you want from your college experience?

We hope you are excited about your college major and want to learn as much as possible about your chosen career. Beyond that, what do you want to experience in college? Online classes won’t offer you the same opportunities as a more traditional, brick-and-mortar school. For example, you can’t truly learn about American culture, people and language without living there. Also, you likely won’t have the same access to international student clubs and organizations, professors or classmates to help you make friends and contacts who can help you find a job after graduation. Even if your online degree comes from a US college or university, you certainly won’t have the same experiences as students who attend a US school in-person.

2. Are you expecting an online degree to be easier than a degree from a brick-and-mortar school?

It won’t be. Expect to spend just as many hours “in class” and studying as you would at a traditional colleges or universities in America. In addition, you still may have to complete the same admissions requirements as students who are attending traditional schools. If you are a student in another country, plan to take the TOEFL and present your online school with a translation of your academic records before being admitted. The benefits to an online degree includes working at your own pace at a time that suits you best. This takes the same amount of energy, however, as earning a degree any other way.

3. Is an online degree acceptable in your career field?

When employers inspect a resume for an internship or job, some prefer degrees from traditional schools rather than online degrees. You also may find some employers who favor online degrees from brick-and-mortar schools above online degrees from online-only schools. If you decide to earn an online degree, be prepared during job interviews to discuss the demands of an online education.

4. Can you work independently?

You won’t have the physical presence of professors or classmates encouraging you or correcting you when you earn an online degree. Make sure you can motivate yourself to study, read your textbooks and other assignments and complete your coursework before you consider earning an online degree.

5. Have you researched your options for an online degree?

You absolutely must attend a reputable, accredited online school. Beware of diploma mills, which will award you a degree for a price — and very few other requirements. If you haven’t already noticed, online degrees require a huge commitment. Are you unsure about completing an entire online degree program? Consider taking a single online class to help you decide.