Can an online counseling degree prepare you?
Since I finished graduate school in 1996, there has been an explosion of online programs, including online counseling programs.
How do human resources people and customers and even potential clients evaluate a program? Is it possible for an individual to learn the skills necessary to be an effective counselor online, with no classroom experience?
What I remember most about graduate school is my interaction with the faculty.
I already had a circle of professional friends, and as a much older student, in my 40's, I did not spend much time with my younger peers, in part because I had to work, and I have had no contact with them since graduation.
So for an older learner, if the online experience can provide valuable faculty contact, advice, commiseration, discussion of ideas and work, office hours, ect. then I think an online experience can prepare a student academically.
It might be of value for an employer to establish an apprenticeship of sorts for someone who comes to him with online credentials only to establish that the individual did in fact learn the materials necessary.
The Big 5 questions to ask about Online Counseling Degree Programs:
1) How is the course delivered?
There are many ways that an instructor can lecture: online using text, with accompanying slides, with or without student interaction, video, teleconferencing, audiotapes, CD-ROM, etc. Course content is more easily understood if it’s presented in a dynamic engaging manner that involves an interaction between the students, the instructor, and the material. When you choose a program you should make sure that your online school utilizes many different methods to convey information.
2) How do I interact with the instructor and other students?
Some standard options for online student interaction include chat rooms, instant messaging, teleconferencing, and video conferencing. Finding a program that facilitates, and even requires, student interaction is an important aspect of choosing an online program. How the online community functions should be very important to both the instructor and the institution.
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3) How will I be evaluated?
Will you actually be required to work in order to earn your degree. If students aren’t evaluated appropriately and degrees are handed out with little or no verification that the students have actually learned anything, the program is not likely worthwhile and even less likely to be accepted by employers. A school that offers shortcuts may actually be a Diploma Mill, and should be avoided.
4) What kind of library and research materials are available?
Ensure that the school you are interested in has a good system for providing reference materials and texts—they should be accessible from anywhere. The school’s online references should be up-to-date and available at any time.
5) Is the school Regionally or Nationally accredited?
Ask about the school's credentials and the degrees the instructors hold. Many unaccredited online schools will eagerly grant you a degree, however these degrees from unaccredited schools are worthless. A Diploma Mill or unaccredited school should be avoided.
Online Counseling Degree Program: A Review of One Program
Module by: Vickie Cook, Kim Kubatzke
Summary: This article reviews current best practices of online learning and teaching. Considerations to the following topics are discussed: What does it take to excel in the online environment? ; How are multiple intelligences utilized in the online classroom? How can learning objectives be met by using best practices in online learning? How do the art of teaching and the act of learning online reflect the practices at the University of Illinois Springfield? The implications of online learning and its practical application to connect students with teachers through a global venue are explored.
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