June 21, 2012

Going to School Online, Is It Right for Everyone?

If you are thinking about going to school online you may want to think twice. Going to school online is a completely different experience than going on campus. We've got a few tips and tricks to help you decide if going to school online is right for you and your education. 

For many, going to school online is ideal because it’s so convenient. You can study when and where you want. All you need is a computer and an Internet connection for most courses. This means you can easily fit your academic obligations around other commitments, like work and family. Also, since you’re able to attend class from home, you won’t have to spend time and money commuting to campus. 

It can be effective for self-disciplined workers who are keen to dig into a task without being slowed by less diligent classmates. It’s a good option for people who are shy to ask question in large groups, as well. Since correspondence with the instructor happens through emails or messaging systems, it’s easy for everyone to ask any questions that may be on their mind. 

Taking classes online has its benefits, but it also has downsides. You should consider the following questions before enrolling in an online class: 

Are you computer literate? In order to do well, you have to be pretty comfortable with computers. While systems are growing to be more user-friendly each year, it would still be daunting for someone with a limited background in computers to jump into online learning. 

Are you self-disciplined? Going to school online is great for its flexibly, but that can also lead to your downfall. Honestly assess yourself as a student. 

Do you have a track record of independent learning, or are you more of a dependent learner? If you’ve been primarily a dependent learner in the past, it could be difficult to adjust to the independent style required for most online courses. 

Are you studying a subject that requires hands-on experience? Some fields require a considerable amount of face-to-face time in order for the student to master the subject, whether it’s spending time in a lab, delivering a presentation to a large audience, or working with patients. If you think you need plenty of practical, hands-on experience to truly learn what your field of interest is about, think twice about online courses. 

Is the institution committed to providing quality online instruction? Some online classes are better than others, and sometimes it can come down to the institution offering them. Research whether the school has upgraded its online learning programs, and whether facility is trained to instruct using it. Well-maintained online classes lead by a well-trained instructor can be very good; poorly-organized programs manned by under-prepared teachers, on the other hand, usually don’t offer the best learning experience. 

Do you think you learn better in a physical classroom? This question is very subjective, but important. Ultimately, you are in control of your education. If you feel that you retain more information and that your overall learning experience is superior when in a physical classroom, stick with classes on campus. Online learning comes with plenty of advantages, but it has its problems, too. When considering online versus offline classes, get the most out of your tuition money by going with what works for your life and your learning style. 

Guest post contributed by Andrea Jones for ChilliSauce.co.uk - Event coordinators and  providers of hen weekends and stag weekends.

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