Is Distance Learning for Me?
There are many factors to weigh before deciding to become an online student. Learning online doesn't work for everybody, but for independent students who are looking for a convenient way to take college courses it can be very rewarding. Below are a few areas to examine as you consider whether online is the way to go for you.
Do you need to take courses to finish a degree? For your job? Or do you just want to give online learning a try? Students who don't have a compelling reason to take online courses sometimes can lose track of their studies because they lack the urgency to complete all the work on their own time, outside of a classroom setting. If you have a crammed calendar with personal and professional obligations, it also might not be the best time to commit to taking college courses. Online coursework can take from 5 to 15 hours each week, and staying involved with the class discussion boards requires you to be online almost every day. Evaluate your motivations for wanting to take online courses and decide whether it fits with your current lifestyle or if traditional learning would be the better option at this time.
With online courses, there is greater flexibility in when you can work on and complete assignments than there is in traditional courses. But that also requires you to have the self-discipline to make sure you schedule time for studying and coursework throughout the week. If you need constant reminders to complete work or if you traditionally procrastinate, online learning could be a stressful experience. There also isn't any one-on-one face time with professors or classmates in online courses, so students who thrive in group classroom settings might struggle online. But if you enjoy independence and are comfortable with chat-room discussions, you should do well. Reading skills are a must for online learning, as all directions are given in written form and there is substantial required reading for assignments. You also are not likely to receive feedback from instructors as quickly in an online setting as you would in a classroom.
As the title "Online" clearly illustrates, distance learning involves significant use of technology. Basic computer skills, familiarity with the internet, and intuition when it comes to getting comfortable with new software or programs are needed to succeed. If you are apprehensive about technology in general or have trouble picking up new computer skills, you might prefer traditional courses. But if you embrace technology and can navigate new programs easily, the online learning process should be easy for you to grasp. It's also important to have access to capable equipment, such as an up-to-date computer and high-speed internet connection, to make the most of the experience.
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