Navigating the waves of online education can be daunting. There seem to be two schools of thought. The first is that online education is the wave of the future. The other is that it is a mere facsimile of traditional classroom experiences. This can be confusing and distressing. Higher education is an investment of time and money. Most people aren’t interested in wasting either of those two things. Here are some pros and cons to help you make a better decision.
- Opportunity and convenience: It is hard to be the convenience of online learning. It provides access to education in a way that traditional programs can’t. You can attend programs regardless of geography, physical ability, or schedule restrictions. Anyone with a computer and Internet connection has the opportunity to attend classes and complete assignments.
- Costs: Many online degree programs are offered at a lower rate. That doesn’t mean that all online programs are automatically more affordable than traditional courses. For any program, it is wise to do your research and crunch some numbers to discover the total cost. Online degrees tend to be more economical in general even if the courses themselves are similarly priced. You don’t have to worry about the cost of transportation or the potential costs of moving closer to a school or university you wish to attend. You also have greater flexibility to work while taking classes. This means you are less likely to graduate under a mountain of debt.
- Flexible completion: You can typically complete your degree more at your own pace. You can take the number of courses you are capable of handling. This means you can work around busy seasons in your life. You may also be able to complete programs faster. Many course studies are structure so individuals needing just a few classes to complete their degree can jump in and finish what they need quickly. Other programs are structured to cut out extraneous requirements and offer a more focused degree.
- Fit: Some courses don’t offer themselves up well for this type learning. They just don’t work. Fields that require hands-on competency will require at least some classroom time. These fields tend to be more challenging to learn online than in a traditional classroom setting.
- Personal responsibility: You need to be a dedicated student to succeed in earning your degree remotely. If you are accustomed to a highly structured environment, the freedom of online courses can be overwhelming. Sometimes the course load is heavier to ensure you are learning the material. If you decide to pursue an online degree, you will need to make your own schedule and be disciplined enough to stick with it. You also have less in-person access to professors and advisors. It takes more effort to seek out guidance as an online student.
- Networking: The traditional classroom lends itself well to networking opportunities naturally. Making connections with fellow students and professors is sometimes essential for gaining acceptance into graduate programs or landing a job after graduation. Because relationships tend to grow more naturally in person, online students will have to work harder to form connections remotely. Of course, there are ways around this. Internet connectivity makes find like-minded individuals in your area easier. It might require going the extra mile and forming or joining a meetup group or seeking out networking opportunities in your area.
Online learning is not for everyone. For some people, it creates opportunities that would not exist otherwise. It is important to know yourself and your situation before making any decisions. If you are unsure, consider enrolling in just one or two Maryville Online courses. Get a taste for what it feels like. Make sure you have the discipline necessary to succeed.