How to Know if Distance Education is Right for You

kids at school

Work, family and other responsibilities often leave us with very little time left in the day. Because of this, even those of us who would like to continue our education might feel like we can’t because there simply isn’t enough time to do it!

With the advent of distance education, and an increasing number of brick-and-mortar colleges offering partial or full online classes and degree programs, we’re able to continue our education pretty much at our own pace.

That sounds great, but is distance education really right for you? Keep reading to examine the pros and cons of distance education and whether you’d be successful pursuing this avenue of higher education.

The Benefits of Distance Education

There are several benefits to obtaining a college education through distance learning:

  • Online classes are convenient. You take the courses that you need when you need them, and you can typically fit several courses into your life no matter how busy you are.
  • Online classes are flexible. While most online degree programs have some sort of schedule you are expected to follow, you can feasibly do the assignments and log into the class whenever you have the time. If you can’t access the course until 4:00 in the afternoon, you can do so. If you want to work at 3 a.m., you can also do that. Online classes allow you to complete a course of study without worrying about getting to a class on time.
  • You can save money. A college education is expensive no matter what form of learning you choose, but when you look at how much money you’ll save on housing costs, distance learning can be a cheaper alternative to a traditional college education. What’s more, you save money on gas or public transportation because you don’t have to commute back and forth to your classes.
  • You can keep your job. A huge benefit to distance learning is your ability to continue working while attending school. This means you don’t have to lose your source of income in order to obtain a college degree, which remains a popular reason that many people choose to continue their education in this way.

Potential Drawbacks of Distance Education

  • You go at your own pace. Self-directed learning can be a positive aspect of distance education for some people. If however you are one of those people who constantly procrastinates, this style of learning will not allow you to be very successful.
  • Lack of social interaction. While online classes typically offer a community for students and faculty to discuss assignments and other related topics, you never receive any face-to-face time with your instructor or any of your fellow students. If you crave social interaction and face time, this could be a big drawback.
  • Computer literacy is a must. If you’re not very computer-literate, attending classes online can be frustrating and unsuccessful. Even if you consider yourself a whiz with technology, you might not have all the up-to-date things you need to complete a course. If that’s the case, you might need to shell out extra money for new equipment, a high-speed Internet connection, etc.
  • Patience may be required. When you take an online course, you may need to wait longer for your instructor to get back to you with feedback on your assignments than you would in a traditional classroom. This is more relevant when you work at odd hours when your instructor won’t be around to check students’ homework.

These are certainly not the only pros and cons of distance education, but they are the most common that potential students encounter. By examining these benefits and possible drawbacks, you’ll be able to decide if distance learning is right for you.

Do you have experience with online college courses? If so, how did you decide it was a viable method of learning for you to pursue? Do you enjoy distance learning? Let me know if the comments!

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