APU Careers & Learning Online Learning

Today’s Special is Education

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With all of the course options available in post-secondary education nowadays, choosing a specific course can feel like a lesson in opportunity cost. It’s like when I go to my favorite restaurant with an extensive menu–all the choices! I end up being one of those guys. I change my order if someone else orders the same dish. Why? Because, like most people, I enjoy a diverse selection and I never want to narrow my choices. That’s assuming others are willing to share.

Recently, I was researching master degree programs online. The selection of courses is astounding. It reads like a big menu and for a second, it felt both empowering and slightly overwhelming. What to choose? I kept my options open, but as I delved into each course, I found that the courses I was more interested in had nothing to do with my career path. In short, I was daydreaming. I got lost in a world of possibilities of what was new to me and I had little interest in courses that seemed similar to what I do already. It reminded me of an old Seinfeld episode where Jerry was dating a masseuse. His friends raved about her, but every time he asked for a massage, she refused. Last thing she wanted to do after working all day was to do more of the same.

So, I decided I would assess my career experience and prior learning, then choose courses that filled-in any skills gaps. Rather than do more of the same, I would choose a portfolio of courses that would challenge me in areas that were not my strongest. This way, my courses would challenge me while also being a natural progression for both my career needs and my personal interests.

I also remembered that some of my favorite undergraduate courses were prerequisites, not courses I would have necessarily chosen based on their descriptions. When you’re deciding on courses, take a holistic approach. Look at your own experience, prior education and future career goals together. Then fill in the gaps. The great aspect about online education is that if you don’t like the direction your degree is taking you, you can always talk to an advisor and reevaluate. In the end, it’s all about priority one–you the student. And isn’t that the point with online education, that you can have your cake and eat it too?

By Online Learning Tips Staff

J. Thompson is the Vice President of the Content team at American Public University. He earned an M.F.A in Screenwriting from the American Film Institute in Los Angeles and performed his undergraduate studies in English literature, political science and business management between the University of New Mexico and East Carolina University. His career insights draw upon experience as a communications vice president supporting learning management, applicant tracking, and talent and leadership development for Bank of America and other Fortune 500 firms.

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