There have never been more opportunities for students to complete school online. As MOOCs
(massive open online courses) began to gain recognition and grow in popularity over the last decade, colleges and universities of all kinds — from local community colleges to Ivy League universities like Harvard — now offer a number of online courses for both personal enjoyment and course credits. Like the school experience itself, the school online environment has a number of benefits and disadvantages that vary from school to school and student to student.
Advantages and Drawbacks of School Online
According to statistics, enrollment in online classes
has been growing every year for over a decade, mostly at the undergraduate level. As of 2016, more than six million students were taking at least one online course, mostly at public colleges and universities. Despite the fact that online learning makes certain programs available to students around the world, studies have found that more than half of students enrolled in online coursework do so at institutions located in their state of residence, or within 50 miles of their chosen institution.
Benefits of Online Learning
The ability to combine on-campus and online learning has a number of benefits, especially for adult students balancing career and family obligations with education. Younger students can also benefit from the flexibility offered by online classes in a number of ways.
Learn at Your Own Pace
Despite the one-size-fits-all of most schools, every student learns differently. A more introverted student may find that it is easier to do well in an environment with less direct competition and the public speaking element that comes with sitting in a classroom face to face with other students. For working adults and parents, the option to complete coursework in the quiet early morning or late evening hours (or even during a lunch break) may determine whether or not to take and complete a course.
Every class and institution has a different courses and set of requirements that often include exams, papers and deadlines, just like their in-person counterparts. But online classes are generally structured to allow students to work their way through the course at their own pace. If you find that you do not perform well under pressure, or prefer to take your time with the material in more small intervals than what is possible in a regular, in-person class, online classes may be a good option.
If it seems like every Starbucks and coffee shop is filled with people very focuses on their laptops or tablets.It is likely that many of them are either working or studying remotely. Whether you prefer to work in the comfort of your own bedroom or living room, or like the buzz and activity found in a coffee shop, there are no rules on your location when it comes to school online.
Save Time, and Money
In addition to the convenience factor, studying online can be a budget-friendly option in terms of time and money saved commuting, eating on campus and paying for additional facility fees and services.
- Complete required classes/transfer credits for degree program
- Save on tuition
- Study at different schools
- Variety of topics and courses
Improve Job Opportunities or Change Careers
Maybe you’ve already completed your undergraduate or master’s degree, but need to refresh your technical skills or complete a set of certifications to stay competitive or advance further in your current career
. Or perhaps you’re looking to switch careers to take advantage of better job prospects and opportunities in a different field. Online learning is not limited to degree seekers. Many colleges and universities also offer continuing education, professional and certificate courses designed to teach new skills without necessarily committing to a new degree.
Factors to Consider for School Online
In order to be successful and get the most out of online learning platforms, there are a few factors to keep in mind.
Time Management Skills
The casual nature of online classes can be difficult for students who struggle to self-motivate or are lacking in time management skills. Without a professor and other students to enforce a timeline and deadlines, you will have to make an additional effort to focus and stay motivated.
Working from home and on your own time has many benefits, but it can also be lonely and isolating. Not being on campus also lowers opportunities to create both personal and professional connections that can enhance the academic experience.
Limited Access to Faculty and Staff
Many online schools include virtual office hours and community forums for students to discuss class material and exchange feedback. But if you have questions or need support, it is usually more limited than in an on-campus class.
How Colleges and Universities Are Making It Easier for Students to Go to School Online
The rise of personal technology and communications has made online education and learning easier. Although many programs offer the opportunity to complete all course work online, most universities and colleges offer some form of hybrid programs that allow students to benefit from the online and on-campus experience. Video conferencing and online productivity tools like Skype, FaceTime, Google Chat and Slack are making it easier for schools to create more comprehensive and accessible learning environments for online students.
Creating a Link Between Campus and Computer
Universities and employers are working to design programs that offer the best of both worlds for online students
, combining the ease of flexible online coursework with physical meeting spaces closer to home, as well as on campus. Some examples include:
- Partnering with co-working spaces to offer online school students in-person meeting space and amenities.
- Reworking course requirements for some programs to offer more flexibility to the traditional four year timeline for example, and allowing students to complete or switch coursework in a longer and more flexible window to help with work schedules, or career changes for older students.
- “Micro Masters” programs that allow students to complete graduate courses online in a more condensed format, which can then be transferred to complete a traditional graduate degree program on campus.
Choosing the Right School Online Program
Doing research and speaking to admissions staff is as important for online learning as on-campus learning in order to find the best fit for your needs. For more information, visit Abound.college
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