When it comes to selecting an online course, there may be a number of factors which influence your decision.
… What units the course covers.
… Who is going to be delivering your education.
… How long it will take to complete & what level of commitment is required.
… What it costs to complete the course & what payment plans are available.
… Who is going to support you if you struggle with any topics…
And so on and so forth.
Chances are if you’ve landed on this blog you’re already aware of what we offer our students at Learning Online. You may have checked out our About Us page and even specific courses as you debated your decision.
Yet if you are in the position where you’re unsure as to which course is ideal for you, then this blog is the answer. Because right here we’re going to walk you through the key steps to help you pick the perfect online course.
Step 1) Ask yourself why you want to pursue online studies
We think it’s fantastic that you’re interested in online studies. In fact, there’s so much potential for remote learning that we could talk about the various benefits for days! (Actually, we previously discussed the benefits of online learning in New Zealand here.)
But when it comes to pursuing online education, it’s important to first determine what your ‘bigger picture’ goal is when completing a course.
- Is it personal or professional development?
- Are you interested in starting your own business, whether at-home or mobile, or are you more eager to develop skills that progress your career and increase your employment opportunities?
- Or do you simply want to learn more about a topic you’re enthusiastic about?
Once you’ve determined what your main motivation is, this will help guide your choices. For instance, if you wanted to work with animals it wouldn’t make much sense to enrol in a Landscaping & Horticulture course. Instead, you’d be much better off taking an Animal or Wildlife course, as this would directly support you with accessing the animal care industry.
Better yet, through having this clarity of whether you’re pursuing a course for personal or professional reasons, you’d then be able to identify which courses directly align with your ambitions.
Carrying on the example from before… if your dream is to become a veterinary assistant, a Vet Assistant Certificate would be the perfect fit for your goals. Whereas if you just wanted to increase your general understanding of animals in order to specialise elsewhere down the line, a introductory-level Animal Care Certificate may be more suitable.
Step 2) Consider what topics interest or excite you
Whilst step one is very much about understanding what your overall aim is through completing a course, it nonetheless remains vital that the course you choose is one which will stimulate and engage you.
- Because it’s when you have a genuine interest or investment in a topic, the depth of your learning and overall quality of your educational experience will increase.
You will be much more motivated to dive into your studies with energy and enthusiasm if you select a course that you find exciting or interesting.
For instance, take our own courses. All our training material is created by professionals who are extensively experienced in their fields, with each unit of study produced to give students the ability to develop both a theoretical understanding and practical knowledge of specialised topics.
Now imagine you’re engaging with a course that you’re genuinely inspired and invigorated by… it’ll be like our tutors are offering you a treasure chest of invaluable industry insights and professional mentorship.
Essentially, with this legitimate interest in a course topic, you’ll be able to interact with and complete each unit at a much more effective level.
Because it’s as the saying goes… what you put in is definitely what you get out.
Step 3) Understand what level of education you need
Once you’re clear on both what your ‘big picture’ motivation is and what topics truly stimulate you, the next step is to determine what level of education is best suited to you.
- Is this a topic you’re completely new to? Or do you already have a grasp of the basics and want to elevate your knowledge to the next level?
This is a particularly important step, precisely because there are often various levels of certificates available in each category.
For example, if you’d like to complete an online course in photography, here at Learning Online we have 5 courses in this category alone.
However, if you know you’re a beginner in this field it’ll be easy to see that our Photography Certificate is best suited for your current abilities. In contrast, if you’ve already mastered the basic skills and knowledge of best photography practices, then your next step may be to undertake a Professional Photography Certificate to develop your expertise.
Yet it’s important to note that you shouldn’t feel daunted to pursue a particular topic just because your current skills are at a certain level. Our courses are designed to be accessed by students of all abilities, with our training made as inclusive as possible.
Step 4) Read the course description & download the course brochure
By this step, you’ll have a pretty clear idea of what courses are most applicable for what you want and need from your studies. So the next step will be to…
- Read the course description online and download the course brochure, of course!
Although this may seem pretty obvious, it’s surprising how easily most of us skim information without taking the time to really absorb all the details.
By paying close attention to the course brochure in particular, you will discover what units are covered, what equipment (if any) will be required and provided to complete your course, how long it will roughly take you, what previous students thought of the course, and how much it’ll cost to complete the certificate.
In turn, this will give you a crystal clear understanding of what the course in question can offer you and what kind of learning experience you will have overall.
Course brochures likewise offer an insight into who will be guiding your training, not just your tutors but also the education provider itself. This will give you the confidence to know you’re picking a high-quality education provider who will be there to support you throughout the entirety of your studies.
Step 5) If stuck between multiple options, list the benefits of each
Now, at this point, you may have already made a decision about which course is the best fit for you. Nevertheless, you may also be in the position where you still can’t choose between a remaining handful of options.
In this instance, try listing the benefits of each course.
Chances are that one course will offer benefits which you feel more strongly about, or one course will even offer considerably more advantages than other courses do.
Here’s some inspiration to kickstart your list:
- Consider what personal/professional benefits each course will offer you.
- Reflect on what elements of each course interests you/what units are covered that particularly excite you.
- Note what specific skills or abilities the course will help you to develop.
- Identify what you hope to get out of your studies and compare this with the course brochure, to see if these wishes will be met by the modules.
- Ask yourself what length of studies you’re happy to commit to and determine whether a course matches these expectations
… And anything else that you, on a personal level, would consider a benefit. Perhaps it’s the equipment included as part of your certificate, or the ability to pick a tutor’s brains over a specific topic… your list, your benefits!
Step 6) Talk to someone who can give you key information and insights
The last step is to talk to someone knowledgeable, who can give you advice on what your options are but also effectively and efficiently help guide you to a decision. In other words, a career consultant.
For example, at Learning Online our team is here to not only answer any practical questions you may have (such as accessing our online learning portal and setting up payment plans) but to also offer additional insights like what the average salary is for specific industries and what employment opportunities may open up in relation to upskilling with our courses.
- If you’re unsure what course will be best suited for your professional aspirations, a career consultant is definitely your go-to. They will help you to determine which certificate will support you in reaching your goals and can offer extensive advice on how to get the most out of your studies.
Here’s another example to demonstrate what we mean…
Say you’re unsure whether to pursue an online course on nutrition or an online course on life coaching, health & wellbeing, a career consultant will support you to understand what each course will offer you and what course will best match your aspirations. They will also be able to answer any questions you have about each course, providing personal insight that supplements what you’ve learnt from the course brochure itself.
Sometimes, it simply helps to speak to someone else before making a decision, which is why chatting with a career consultant is an ideal final step to take.
So there you have it, our advice to help you pick your perfect online course. It’s well worth taking the time to deeply understand which course is best for you, in terms of meeting your expectations and also helping you to move forward on your personal and professional journey.
Completing an online course in New Zealand has never been easier, and there is so much potential available to you. We hope our advice has helped you today but make sure to reach out to us here if you’d love any further advice as you decide which certificate is ideal for you.