Online learning is a booming industry. Recent advances in technology have enabled us to gain a thorough and high-quality education from the comfort of our own homes, whether it’s short courses or even full degree programs.
So if you’ve been considering returning to college to study for a master’s in school counseling but have been put off by the need to attend classes in person, distance learning could be the ideal option for you. Here’s what you need to know.
What is studying for a master’s in school counseling online like?
Whether you choose to study online or on-campus, a school counseling degree involves taking a series of academic modules on various relevant topics.
Some of these will be compulsory, while for others, you will be able to choose the ones that interest you the most from a list of electives. The specific module list you have will depend on the college you enroll with but will likely include subjects such as:
- Principles of School Counseling
- Roles and Responsibilities of a School Counselor
- School Counseling Program Development and Evaluation
- Counseling for College and Career Readiness
- Counseling Theory and Techniques
- Introduction to Special Education
- Issues and Standards in Professional Counseling
- Abnormal Psychology
- Biological Bases of Behavior
- Child and Adolescent Psychopathology
- Crisis Intervention, Trauma Response, and Emergency Management
- Developmental Psychology
- Educational Assessment and Intervention
- Group Counseling
- Introduction to Educational Research
- Management of School Counseling Programs
- Mental Health and Substance Misuse
- Multicultural Counseling
These modules will be delivered using a range of innovative digital teaching and learning methods.
For example, this could include live and prerecorded lectures, audio materials, interactive quizzes, online discussions boards and forums, reading lists, mock counseling sessions, written assignments, and virtual seminars.
There may also be in-person residency sessions, where you can put what you’ve learned into practice in a supportive environment.
What are the benefits of taking a degree online?
Taking a guidance counseling degree online brings you a wealth of advantages. The most obvious of these is the extra flexibility it gives you with your studies.
Distance learning allows you to study at a time, place, and pace that suits you. That means you can easily fit your studies around any existing work and family commitments that you have, as well as your hobbies and holidays.
In line with this, you also have the ability to set up your personal study environment just the way you like it.
So for example, if you need complete silence to concentrate, you could retreat into the sanctuary of your home office, or if you prefer some creative background noise, you could settle in at your favorite coffee shop.
Another benefit of online degrees is that they open up more possibilities for you in terms of the courses you can take. You’re no longer limited to those colleges that you can comfortably commute to or would be happy to move to.
In fact, you could even enroll at a university abroad if you want! You can also benefit from a cheaper education because tuition fees are often lower for online programs, and there’s no need to worry about extra costs such as parking or accommodation during the semester.
Finally, taking a degree online can be an effective way to boost your tech skills. This is because you’ll be using a wide range of cutting-edge software in your college’s virtual learning environment, with plenty of support to help you along the way.
It’s likely that many companies will soon be using this technology for their staff too, giving you an advantage when that time comes.
Are there any disadvantages to online degrees?
Thanks to the widespread popularity of online education, taking your degree in this way is no longer seen as a disadvantage when it comes to applying for jobs.
Employers are well aware that online degrees can be just as valid as traditional campus programs. Having said that, there are a few differences between the two learning styles that you should be aware of before enrolling.
For example, you won’t have access to physical college services such as the library or gym as an online student. If you’re hoping for a classic student experience with parties, sports games, and group study sessions, choosing a program based on campus will be far more satisfying for you.
On the other hand, if you’re intending to knuckle down and just focus on studying, distance learning could be ideal. Don’t worry you’ll still be able to socialize with your fellow students, it will just be done virtually.
Distance learning requires you to take a bit more responsibility for your studies because you won’t have anyone looking over your shoulder to ensure that you’re reading and writing your assignments.
However this can actually be an advantage for some people because it further boosts your time management and organization skills while looking extra impressive on your resume.
How to prepare for an online degree program
If you’re interested in studying for an online guidance counseling degree but are also a bit daunted by the prospect, there are a number of steps you can take to help you prepare. For example:
- Sign up for a free short course online to help you get used to distanced learning. Picking a relevant subject will be extra helpful, but even a language course or similar will do. This will enable you to get a feel for what online study is like and how you learn best.
- Speak to your college to get some recommended reading lists in advance. Browsing relevant articles, websites, and books before the first semester starts will help you get in the right headspace for learning. Plus, you can familiarize yourself with the sort of topics you’ll be covering.
- Set up a quiet study space where you can work without being disturbed. Be sure to have an ergonomic desk arrangement, good lighting to prevent eye strain, and enough space for your notes, stationery, laptop, and anything else you need.
- Work out your study schedule in advance. By blocking off specific times every week to learn, you’ll ensure you can get all of your work done on time.
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