You know you need to engage with education to improve your credentials and achieve the career of your dreams — but your time is limited. Even with the benefits afforded through online education, such as the ability to fit lectures and study hours amongst your existing schedule and the opportunity to complete all coursework from home. You need to be certain that you are not wasting any time on courses that do not provide direct advantages to your career.
Fortunately, there are ways to determine whether a course is worth your time before you enroll. Here are some tips to help you evaluate the value of an online course to maximize your benefit from online education.
Research the Most Valuable Skills in Your Industry
Even if you primarily enroll in free online courses like MOOCs, you do not want to waste your precious free time pursuing knowledge and skills that won’t have any impact on your dream career. Before you sign up for any online courses, you should investigate skills that most benefit professionals along your career track. You should seek guidance from your mentor or from a superior in your career whom you know and trust. You might also utilize online career guides to point you toward valuable skills worthy of investment through online education.
Consider Ratings and Reviews for Education Platforms
Not all online education is created equal. Some online courses are led by industry experts and organized by some of the world’s top universities; other online courses are created by individuals with hardly more experience in the field than you have, and some online courses are essentially scams produced by unscrupulous entrepreneurs. Before you pay any amount of money to enroll in a course, you should look up ratings from previous students of the course, ideally on third-party websites. If possible, you should also review the completion rates for the course, as low completion rates typically signal a poor-quality course.
Evaluate the Trustworthiness and Prestige of the Institution
The institution hosting the course is largely responsible for vetting the quality of the course. Thus, if you cannot find any ratings or reviews of a course that interests you, you might consider the reputation of the website and/or university that created and offers the course. For example, DeVry University is notorious for low-quality degree programs, but most Ivy League schools are respected around the world for their outstanding academic and professional prowess. You can research educational institutions online as you would individual courses to better understand online course quality.
Read Course Descriptions
Names of courses can be misleading. When searching for executive education online, you should be careful to read course descriptions to affirm that courses are offering the exact executive skills you need to enhance your career. Many online courses focus on fundamentals that might be well below your interests and abilities. If course descriptions do not make the content of the course clear, you might contact the institution or instructor for a course syllabus to provide more insights into the knowledge and skill you might gain.
Watch Course Previews to Determine Content Quality
Some online course platforms offer previews of the course to encourage prospective students to sign up. You can use previews to help you understand the material covered in the course, and you can assess the quality of the previews to determine the quality of the content presented in the course itself. For example, if a video preview has a low-resolution and maintains garbled audio, you may opt not to participate in the course, as other videos from the instructor are likely to suffer from the same issues.
Clarify Course Costs
Some online education is free, but usually, free courses do not provide the high-quality instruction you need to boost your career. Still, you do not need to go into debt to pursue online education. If a website does not make its course costs clear, you should contact the platform or school for more information about tuition and fees for the specific course that interests you. If the costs are beyond your financial capabilities, you might ask your employer whether they might contribute to your online education through some degree of tuition assistance or reimbursement.
Online education is a convenient way to improve your credentials and thereby improve your career. By taking steps to investigate courses before you enroll, you can maximize your time and effort in the classroom to enjoy outstanding career benefits.