Which may be right for you?
The growing popularity of online college courses has all but completely erased from peoples’ minds the fact that, up until recent years, online schools had previously been widely stigmatized. The truth is that the majority of online institutions today are accredited and offer the same degree choices that the traditional brick and mortar institutions offer. In fact, many highly-accredited, highly-respected universities offer online or “distance learning” programs in addition to their traditional campus-based programs. Online schools offer flexibility and a learning pace that suits everyone – so how do you decide which option is right for you? Campus or online? Let’s explore the benefits of both.
Online learning offers unparalleled flexibility. Each student has an ideal learning pace and can for the most part create his or her own schedule. This also means that students can base their learning around work, children & family, and other obligations. Online courses were designed to fit the needs of the student. Full time and part time courses are available, making online learning the perfect choice for just about anyone.
In addition to the ability to control one’s own schedule, students are able to choose when and where to learn. As long as you can get online, you can learn! Students can choose to take courses from home, at work, by the pool, at the café – anywhere that has an internet connection. This can also help to cut down on commuting costs as you do not need to drive to a campus to be present for classes.
Of course, as with anything in life, there are pros and cons to online learning. Taking online courses certainly is not for everyone, and there are definite problems associated with this method. The lack of feedback and interaction which comes naturally with a classroom environment can be troublesome for some students. To study online, one must be a true self-starter and be very motivated, as there is not constant teacher supervision. Some students also find that online courses do not provide the “tangible” experience which they need in order to assimilate and retain information.
On-campus education is still the most common form of learning. The traditional instructor-led teaching environment is much more personal than that of an online class and may provide more immediate, one-on-one attention to those who need it. As we mentioned above, there are also students who truly need the in-class experience including feedback, interaction, and special attention. Instructors in a traditional in-class environment have more teaching tools at their disposal than online instructors; there are no white boards or paper hand-outs within online courses.
Social interaction may be a huge pro that campus education offers. Many people believe that the education one receives by meeting people and interacting is nearly as important as earning your actual degree.
However, as we saw with online learning, there are drawbacks which come with campus-style learning as well. There is a definite lack of flexibility when it comes to campus learning. Schedules are extremely rigid and are typically during the daytime hours when many students work. It also is important to note that campus-based schools are oftentimes far more expensive than online schools, making online learning the more economical option.
So which is right for you? There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to learning. Each person is completely different and must choose which method of learning fits their life and needs.