There are certainly pros and cons to each side. Being a lifelong learner on the brink of going back to grad school, I have found that some people do well in one, and not the other. In many instances, most people tend to think that online education is a lack thereof, nor allows a certifiable degree, and a waste of time. It necessarily isn’t true. That being said, it would be beneficial to do some research and figure out where the institution is accredited, how long they have been around, check the BBB, read reviews, and don’t hesitate to call and ask questions. The same goes for campus-based institutions as well, research the college and be sure to ask questions, even about various degree choices, it will help in the long run and aid in making the best option for you.
Do you have the time to go to classes each day? Being in a classroom is great since you can ask the professor/teacher all the questions right there, get feedback and work with your peers one-on-one. Being extroverted can help in many cases since you do have to reach out and be social.
For someone who has a busy schedule and wants to be able to put education in their program as they need to, they should look into online-based programs. Being a mom, raising two boys, working full-time allowed me to put education into the gaps of my schedule and complete it on my terms! Yes, it was unbelievable.
From personal experience, I did the college classroom setting and found it annoying and time-consuming to go out of my way, go to school and makes notes and to come home and study some more. I did a year and a half in the community college setting. I had two kids under the age of two, I had to juggle my husband’s schedule and my own just to accommodate my schedule for classes. It was a pain in the rear!
After taking some time off from school, I was informed about an online college who had a campus based in Iowa, they were accredited, they had a good reputation through the BBB, a friend loved it there, and the best part is, I could go for a degree that I wanted. Along with this place, I looked into a couple other online-based programs and found that some didn’t have the best reviews or reputation with the BBB.
I leaped! Online school was great but nerve-wracking at first, because I had to get in a rhythm of deadlines, and put myself into a schedule that would allow me to have my family time, work and get my schooling done. It took a couple of months, but the hard part was over, or so I thought. My last semester or so was probably the most emotional for me. After 3 years, I strived for the best and was at the end of my journey. One last semester and the classes would be over. As I progressed in classes, they became more in depth, more time-consuming and mind boggling. Nonetheless, online education brought me two, very useable, degrees.
With technology developing and becoming more accessible to the public, along with the internet, search engines, and tools for education, pursuing a degree has never been easier. Even if traveling is a highlight in your daily tasks, or you travel for work. Studying in a coffee shop has its perks after working all day and making sure the kids are taken care of!
Time management is crucial to either setting. In classrooms, you have to set time aside to write papers, work in groups, study outside of class, etc. In the online environment, you still have to do the same job, but often it turns out (from experience) a lot of it is independent work. Absence from classrooms may often hinder a participation grade, while online doesn’t truly factor that.
Participation varies in traditional settings and online classes. In campus-based courses, it may not be a requirement to raise a hand, ask a question and communicate ideas on the residing topic in class. Online students are required to do a post, respond so many times to other students, cite sources and be a part of an ongoing discussion that is crucial to their education. “In traditional classes, students voluntarily participate in the debates or ask and answer questions. However, according to the University of Connecticut’s Instructional Design and Development Guide for Online Students, some people may be shy or unwilling to contribute, leading to a lopsided class dynamic where the same individuals tend to carry the weight. In online courses, participation is mandatory, usually through written discussions in chat rooms or on message boards” (Seattle PI).
Degree choice is a decisive factor when picking the online or classroom setting. Most often times, liberal arts degrees, criminal justice, psychology, and others are ideal for online learning since working from home or on the go is simple. Welding, technicians, medical field and computer-based degrees online would be more practical in a classroom where one may get one-on-one training. Education-based programs would be interesting online, but have noted there are many out there. Some states need to allow student teaching in a classroom with kids, grading at the end of the term. Of course, reporting everything to an advisor is an idea, maybe even in online nursing based programs. Do the work online, and be on site at a local hospital for the training. Interesting idea?
Either way, when picking a degree choice, perhaps writing down some specific degree choices down that you would like to research; write down a typical schedule for yourself and ask yourself if you can fit your education into a busy lifestyle, or if education is the center of your lifestyle. Don’t forget to do your research and ask lots of questions!
Lead photo by Huffington Post