November 25, 2010

Distance Learning: Is it for you?

The Internet opened us to an infinite amount of options for those of us looking for a new career.

  One of the greatest ways to improve your marketability is with certification or advanced training in your field. Whether you want a degree certificate or a PhD, thanks to the Internet, you can now earn it right from the comfort of your own home.

Yet despite the convenience, many people taking online courses miss the human experience of traditional classes. It’s not a decision to be entered into lightly, and online learning isn’t right for everyone. So, if you are considering an online degree, here are some advantages and disadvantages to keep in mind.

Advantages of Distance Learning

Less Expensive – Most of what we pay for college is in the expenses.  Between housing or dorming costs, parking costs, plus all the money eaten up by gas and tolls to actually get to class. With an online degree you never have to leave your house, or worry about any other extra fees.

More Flexible – Making it to class on time or at all is often tough on students.  Between jobs, and any unexpected emergencies that might come up, a lot of students find themselves catching up on what they missed in class on their own time.  Online classes give you the flexibility to do the coursework whenever it is convenient for you.  Since it’s on your own time, you have the ability to accelerate the pace of the course, and obtain your degree much faster.

Easier Access to the Professor – Oddly enough, online classes give you a more expansive means of accessing professors, and asking questions.  In a traditional setting you are limited to class times and office hours.  Online course you are able to post on the discussion board anytime, and receive a response within the day.

Reduced Anxiety – A lot of us crack under the pressure of live tests.  Online everything is untimed and open book, so there’s no opportunity for those scary “blank out” moments.  Nor do you have to worry about being called on the unprepared.

Disadvantages to Distance Learning

More Self Motivation Required – Obviously all classes traditional or not require self motivation and persistence.  But online classes are scarily easy to forget about.  The fact that you have the option of doing work whenever is convenient for you makes you very susceptible to just letting it fall to the wayside.  Sometimes people really need that structure of set hours or dates to actually get anything done.

Lack of Social Experience – There is a very nice social aspect to attending live classes with the same people each week.  Statistics show that most people meet their future spouse in college.  The people sitting next to you can make great contacts to network with in the future.

Tip – you might even get college financial aid to help cover the costs of getting your online degree.

Have you taken classes online? What do you see as the advantages and disadvantages of this growing educational format?

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