Online degree - seems like a dream come true. For many the possibility of attending college from home or fitting it in while working full-time is a fantastic opportunity. However, there are some very important considerations before you sign on the dotted line.
The first thing to know about online courses is that they are not easy. This may sound obvious, but many students presume that the online classes will be super easy - like taking a quiz on Facebook. They are not. So how are they hard then? Well, there is no professor to ask questions to in real time. Most of the time the professors are only available via email, and not usually on the weekends. Also, you are not in a classroom full of students that you can ask for help. They too are available only via email. Depending on the lives that they lead, that may not even be an option. You are largely on your own to figure things out.
Second, online course require you to take initiative to do the work. Everything in an online course is time and date stamped. There are no excuses for late work. You can't "fake" an online submission. It's either there by the due date or it is not. Generally there are no classes to show up for, but instead you are required to read/listen to the lectures, attend chat sessions, read discussion boards, do the reading assignments, then assimilate all this yourself without benefit of discussion and write a paper and several discussion board posts WEEKLY. Yes. All of this every week. For each class.
It is obvious therefore that online courses require a tremendous amount of writing. Most professors gauge what you are learning by what you are writing. Every discussion board post must be cited and indicate a firm understanding of what you learned from the reading. Every reading. You will have to pull quotes and ideas out of each reading...sometimes a half dozen or more per week, and write up the posts. Sometimes six to twelve of those per week per class as well.
Fourth, exams are usually timed if they are given online and are not just a paper. No extra time. No exceptions. If you don't finish when time is up, the exam disappears. The end.
It's not all bad though. You will challenge your abilities in ways you never thought possible. You will find out a good deal about yourself in the process. Can I make deadlines? Can I figure this out independent of a teacher and roomful of classmates to help me? Do I know where to turn for help when I need it? Can I schedule my work in such a way that if I need help, I can get it in time to use it before the work is due?
In addition to some serious self-realizations, you will also learn to write like you have never written before. You will be able to marshal your thoughts, assimilate readings and pull it all together almost instantly. Another plus? Usually there are few textbooks to buy - all the materials are available online through the databases at the university library. This has the added benefit of making one super proficient at navigating these databases. A great skill for future librarians to have.
Having done half of my undergraduate program and all of my master's program online - I highly recommend the process. It has only helped me. I won't lie - it was a steep and rocky learning curve. But at the end of it all, I wouldn't change a thing.