The latter includes schools such as Western Governors University and the University of Phoenix, as well as traditional brick and mortar institutions such as the University of Idaho and Florida State University. Online learning is not for everyone; here is how to know if you are ready for this education option.
Computer Skills and Equipment
You need both computer equipment and the skills to take classes online. Working at the library on public equipment is one option, but then you are restricted to the hours of the library and the equipment available. Clearly, having your own computer, a printer and the related software gives you options.
It is also an investment you must be prepared to make if you do not presently own a computer. Moreover, if you are not computer literate you will need to get equipped to operate one and that may mean taking a computer class before you take an online college class.
Motivation and Discipline
College students are a motivated lot, but that motivation can fall to the way side if you do not keep a schedule. Online learning provides flexibility, enabling you to take classes at most any time. That means you set the schedule and get the work done on your own time.
Clearly, if you need guidance along the way, then online education may not be right for you. It takes discipline to maintain the rigor of online learning, something struggling students may not have. If that describes you, there is no shame in admitting that this option is not a good fit for you.
A Collegial Atmosphere
Online learning may not be right for you if you enjoy the interaction of your peers and your professors. Face to face time online means scheduling it when you can. It also means that you miss out on the collegial experience that is important to many students.
Some online programs do a better job at bringing students and instructors together. Set times to log on and even meeting up with local students are possibilities. These factors may be enough for some students.
Scheduling and Juggling
If you work, are raising a family and have other responsibilities, taking a college class online or in person for that matter can be a challenge to say the least. Some students feel that they bite off more than they can chew when taking classes and are forced to curtail their schedules later on.
Online learning can, however, work around your schedule better than traditional college classes. Some students thrive at the challenge and will set aside time for study that fits their schedule and lifestyle.
If you are still not sure whether online education is right for you, then sign up for one course and complete it. As you work your way through your studies, gauge how you are doing. Taking one course online may be the only impetus you need to pursue online education or to explore your on-campus options. Some students find it easy to take online courses if they have a busy schedule where they can’t make time to go to campus a few nights a week. People in the medical field particularly love this option when finishing their RN-BSN program. It allows them to gain real life experience at a hospital or clinic while learning the material to become a successful nurse.
You can also upgrade your education while continuing to work in a medical field. By taking some online Master of Public Health courses, you can further your career without having to take any time away from work. This program allows you to specialize in community health education or health policy and administration, giving you a number of different career options once you have completed your degree. If you can’t afford to take time away from work, but want to pursue a different career, this is probably your best opportunity to make a change.