Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, I had seen more and more advertising about online classes and education. However, moving forward, does an online education fit your learning style? Is it the best option for you? I am sure some of you have figured out that there is more to it than staying in our pajamas all day (or any other stereotype people can think of). Let’s look at some quick pros and cons to online education:
Flexibility- A majority of online programs will allow you to do it on your own time. If you are working full time or running a household, you get to choose when you study and you can do it at your own pace. You may be able to work on your coursework for just a couple of minutes or spend an entire day on it – it’s completely up to you. I know a few people, including myself, who took an online course rather than taking the every-Friday-at-8am option.
Class Variety- Online education has endless amounts of classes to choose from. You are not limited by what the local college or university provides. Want to take a class that is specific to a geographic region? Not a problem. Want to take a foreign language? Not a problem. You literally have hundreds, if not thousands, of classes that you get to choose from. Here is just one of many lists of free courses you can take. If you plan to use financial aid however, it’s wise to take all of your online courses or a hybrid of courses with the same college.
Access- Thankfully with online classes, you can access them from any location as long as you have a computer and the internet. If you travel for work, you get to take your classes with you. If you live in a community with no college or university, you can still take classes without having to move. Military service people and their families may have to move every couple of years, so online classes might be a better option.
Requires Discipline- If you lack the specialized motivation and discipline for building and maintaining your schedule, it may be a challenge to take online courses and completing them to the best of your abilities. With online courses you will need to meet the required deadlines, and submit course work by the due dates. If you are the type of person who needs reminders from your professor or classmates for the upcoming exams or papers then you might be better suited for an on campus course that provides more structure.
Technology- Online courses require technology. You will need a computer, internet, and possibly different types of software for each of your courses. If you need to buy or upgrade your technology, it could get expensive. High-speed internet may also be required, which may add additional expenses, provided it’s available where you live. If you are not tech-savvy, you may find it frustrating when the technology doesn’t work.
Transferring Credits- Every college or university is accredited through a governing body that certifies their programs and degrees. However, not all schools are accredited by the same ones, and if you try to transfer credits between two different schools with different accrediting bodies, your classes may not transfer. If you have a goal to go to a specific school later in life and just want to take a few classes before then, contact your desired school about transferring credits before you pay for a class whose credits might not transfer. A useful website that a few schools use is Transferology, but if your school doesn’t use it, you can search on their website with key terms like “transfer credit equivalency” or “transfer credit evaluation.”
Options before Fall 2020:
Many institutions are still undecided if they will be 100% online, 100% on campus, or a –combination of the two. Also, their message is coming with a “subject to change” theme, so it can be hard to know for sure what it will look like. Previously, I wrote the blog Virtual Admissions Counselors, Tours, and Orientations, what are they all about? where I discussed what institutions are doing in the short term to provide the same level of opportunities as before. It is worth a read if you are still undecided on what your Fall 2020 plans will be. You can also check out AKCIS for career exploration assessments, school sorting, scholarships, and more
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