Your options for online programs

If you've decided that you would like to take advantage of online learning opportunities but you aren't sure what to study, you should sit down and take stock of your interests and aptitudes. To get the most out of any educational investment, you should be sure that the program you're going to take is one that not only interests you, but will also improve your future job and career prospects.

There are several strategies you can use to narrow down your list of options if you're just not sure what you want to study. If you need help making a decision, you should take advantage of all resources available to you.

Tips for Choosing Online Programs

Here are some techniques to help you choose an educational path to follow:

  • Talk to family and friends. The people closest to you often have a valuable and unique perspective that you don't have on yourself. If you're not sure what career path to follow, don't hesitate to ask the important people in your life for their advice. They may be able to help you discover new interests and career prospects that you weren't aware of before.
  • List your skills and interests. This is one of the simplest, yet most surprising exercises you can do if you're trying to figure out what to study in school. Sit down and write out a list of the things you're good at. This list can contain both specific things (such as woodworking or mathematics) and abstract things (such as communicating well or displaying leadership skills). Then, make a similar list of the things you're interested in. If you detect a trend, or if certain items on these lists naturally suggest a particular career path, listen to your heart.
  • Consider your strengths. Some people are particularly well-suited to trades and don't thrive in academic environments, while others are excellent in the classroom but struggle in the world outside school. If you're a square peg, don't try to force yourself into a round hole.
  • Consult your academic advisor. If you're in high school and considering pursuing degrees online, or if you're currently enrolled in an academic program and you aren't sure whether or not you want to continue, take advantage of you school's resources. Make an appointment with your academic advisor, guidance counselor or career counselor. They excel at helping match students with rewarding vocations.
  • Take advantage of local employment services. Most municipalities maintain government-funded employment services offices where people transitioning to new careers can take advantage of similar resources. Contact your local employment center and ask if you can come in to speak with someone who can help you find a path to pursue.

Finally, remember that there may be many different career paths to follow within a given industry. If you have a passion for a certain industry -- such as, say, the fashion industry or the entertainment industry -- spend some time researching the different types of careers available within those industries. Chances are the scope will surprise you, and reveal options you didn't even know you had.

The single most important rule to follow is that you should do something that you enjoy. The number one reason for job dissatisfaction is a lack of interest in the profession, and this is much more likely to happen to someone who pursued a particular career solely because of its good job prospects or higher levels of pay. No matter what field you choose to pursue, the reality is that only the most passionate and hardest-working people attain prominence, and you'll never be able to put in the required amount of work if you don't genuinely enjoy what you do.