Assess Goals as an Online Student

It’s always helpful to determine your long-term goals when deciding whether to further your undergraduate education.

Before I researched and chose an online bachelor’s program, I made sure I understood what I wanted to do with my degree. That included expanding my career opportunities in project management and eventually pursuing medical school. Having a long-term plan also motivated me to complete my online program.

Here are four examples of possible goals and the factors that prospective students should consider to select the right online bachelor’s program.

1. Simply earn a bachelor’s degree: You may be unsure about your long-term professional goals. Perhaps you just want to explore different fields of study and for now want to focus on getting an undergraduate education.

It can be useful to select an online bachelor’s program that offers a broad range of majors and is also flexible overall so you can continue working. If you are undecided on your major, you may also speak with admissions advisers about how to best proceed and choose the right option.

[Learn four reasons online learning works well for working adults.]

2. Attend graduate school: If you think you eventually want to pursue graduate school, you should speak with admissions officers and look into application requirements to determine whether specific types of programs will accept undergraduate online coursework.

Top medical and law schools, for example, may be more wary of applicants who earned their degrees completely online. Those who want to ultimately attend medical school should also consider whether it makes more sense to complete science prerequisites and labs on campus.

3. Gain a promotion: Some individuals may feel limited in their ability to move up in their current occupation if they don’t have a bachelor’s degree.

With that in mind, weigh whether and how an online program fits into your current work schedule. Also consider your current position and what major or program would help you progress.

Speak with your supervisor or the human resources department about how obtaining a bachelor’s may open more job opportunities. It could make sense to look into other credentials that aren’t a full degree; for instance, a professional or undergraduate certificate – or even an online associate degree – may be sufficient.

4. Change careers: Some prospective students may realize they want to pursue a completely different career. Perhaps there isn’t room for growth in their current industry, or they realize they just don’t want to continue in that field in the long run.


You should first determine what undergraduate field of study is necessary to make the switch. Researching that information and speaking with professionals in the industry can provide valuable insight into new opportunities and your potential career trajectories. With that, you can research online bachelor’s degree programs that match your professional needs.

Those looking for a more swift career change may also want to weigh an accelerated online degree program.

The takeaway: Considering your long-term aspirations can be tremendously helpful in determining which online bachelor’s program is right for you. By selecting a good fit and clarifying your aspirations, you can improve your chances of achieving your academic and professional goals.