Six Things to Check Before Signing Up for an Online Class
If you don't want to sign up for an online class where you spend lots of time and money but don't actually learn anything, then check out these tips on six things to check before you fork over your cash for an online course.
1. Make Sure There Is More to the Course Than Just Theory
If you watch professionals doing their job, it will seem easy and straightforward. But this impression is misleading. As soon as you start doing the same thing with your own hands, you'll likely be faced with a lot of questions and difficulties.
To really learn a new profession, you have to do tasks on the course, not just watch videos. To learn new skills, you have to practice the material. Find out how many hours of the course are devoted to practical tasks.
Another important point is the linking of assignments to real cases in the industry in which you have decided to get ahead. It is much more effective to analyze typical orders and study market trends than to read abstract descriptions from the textbook. For instance, future programmers need to learn how to write code, while designers need to learn how to work with real-world layouts.
In your new position, this experience will help you cope with current responsibilities, but in the meantime, it will add to your portfolio.
2. Find Out If There Is Feedback From Students
A good course always involves communication with the course tutors. Two aspects are important here: being able to ask questions when things have become unclear and getting feedback on the learning projects you are doing. Diving into a new field without critically assessing your work is a big risk. There is always the possibility that you have misunderstood something and repeat mistakes from task to task.
If the course has a system for checking homework, this is a big plus. In this way, you will consolidate what you have learned step by step and improve your skills. Pay attention to the opportunities for professional networking: Will you be communicating with your classmates? Are industry experts involved in the discussions?
Contacts in a new field can help you in your job search, and it's also a source of inspiration and the exchange of ideas.
3. Take a Deeper Look at Any Promises of Employment and Salary
Some online training courses include help with finding a job. If this is the main purpose of the training for you, find out exactly what is included in "employment." Some courses include a consultation with HR. Others are about matching a certain number of any vacancies, not necessarily matching your expectations. The real support courses can provide is help with CVs, cover letters and portfolios, interview tips and interview test-drive, and insights on where to look for interesting jobs.
Remember that your job search depends on your own skills and the situation on the market. And no one can guarantee you "100% job placement in a month" or "a salary of $1,000 immediately after training." Such big promises are a reason to be alert.
There are already experienced professionals on the market. So even talented newcomers start with entry-level positions and salaries and only then build their growth from there.
4. Be Aware of Installments and Loans
Learning on credit is a standard approach offered by many schools and online courses. As a rule, courses that have been on the market for a long time and are well-established cooperate with major banks. Before enrolling in a program, check the overpayment percentage and carefully review the fee arrangements written into the contract. Find out what date you have to make your next payment by and if there are any penalties for late payment.
Consider carefully whether there is a possibility that you may not want to complete the course. If you feel in doubt, it is better to choose schools that allow you to pay for only the part of the course you have completed—or to get a refund. In this way, you can avoid having to pay for the whole program and the loan, even if you have taken a couple of classes and change your mind about finishing the course.
5. Examine the Course Reviews and Their Social Media
It's not just on the course website that you should read the reviews. Sometimes even your social networks can tell you more. There you can search for the comments of past students and also check the school's response to the students. If the page is just a succession of uniformly enthusiastic reviews, that's a red flag. So is a situation where social media is dusty and the last response from the school's account was in 2017.
If the blogs are up and running, you may be able to find the pages of people who have already taken the course. Try writing to them, ask them to share their impressions of the course, and tell them how their career in their new profession turned out.
6. Don't Trust "Express Methods"
Depending on your chosen field, the transition takes from six months to a year. Generally, you have to devote at least 10 hours a week to lessons and self-study and put in a lot of effort to learn new skills during this period. Remember that hiring companies are more interested in professionals with practical experience. The aim of courses that take care of their reputation is to teach you how to cope with work tasks on your own.
If they promise you impressive results in a short time, it is likely that you are looking at a course with no practical experience, no project implementation, and no networking. Be especially careful of courses that use the wording "unique method" or "guaranteed results in a month."
Bonus Tip: Look Into Potential Trial Lessons
If you're just diving into a new field and may not fully understand what's ahead of you, then be on the lookout for trial lessons. With one free webinar, it will be difficult to assess whether the specialty, workload, and format of the course are right for you. A more reliable way of making sure you're going where you'll be interested in is taking trial lessons.
Ask the staff at the training center if there is an opportunity to see part of the program for free or to get demo access. When signing up for trial lessons, ask if you will be paying for the lessons you take.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
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