If you are an adult contemplating returning to school to earn an associate’s, bachelor’s or master’s degree, there are several factors that must be taken into consideration when it comes to deciding whether to pursue your degree online or actually attend classes on campus. There are many aspects of your current life that must be reflected upon when deciding when and how you should continue or begin your college education, and here is just a brief examination of some personality traits or qualities of life to consider when making the important decision of returning to higher education online or on campus.
Interaction with others
If you are the type of person who enjoys lively discussions and group interaction in a traditional classroom setting, taking courses at campus might be more to your liking than taking classes online. At campus, you will meet students of all ages, ethnicities, social economic backgrounds and cultural experiences. You will have firsthand interaction with others on campus to learn new things and take part in on-campus activities. If you are more introverted and don’t enjoy interacting with others in an academic setting, you will probably enjoy learning online and virtually communicating with your fellow students and instructors.
Online classes offer great flexibility in regards to creating your coursework schedule while being in the comfort of your own home. If you have a family and/or career, you can schedule your coursework conveniently around your schedule so you are able to fulfill your familial and work responsibilities while furthering your education. Attending classes in person will require you to take a block of time out of your schedule to sit be present on campus and sit in on regularly-scheduled classes, and this may not be feasible if you are working full time. On campus education offers convenient classes that can be taken in the evening or weekends with the realization that people have other commitments and may not be available to take classes during the day, but taking online classes does require the commitment of being on campus a certain number of hours each week class is in session.
Are you the type of person who learns better at your own pace, or do you prefer having someone else give you direction? Taking classes online will require you to be self motivated and create a schedule for yourself and stick to it. No one will be there to remind you to finish an assignment or to study for an upcoming exam. You will be accountable for completing your own work on your own schedule, but there are still due dates when taking coursework online. And when taking courses online, you are able to get assistance and ask questions of your instructors when necessary. Taking classes in person is more structured, with the professor handing you a syllabus on the first day outlining the coursework for an entire semester. Some students claim that there is nothing like the in-classroom learning experience while others will tell you they felt that same “in-classroom” experience while working online. Working on your studies at home requires a great deal of self discipline and the ability to work independently. If you know you have had more success with more guidance and working with others, then a classroom setting may be best for you.
Depending on the courses you take, the amount of students in each class will vary. Some classes have about 30 students, while others will have more and some fewer. In smaller classes, you will have the instant gratification of meeting with your teacher after class and having your questions answered immediately. Taking classes online will also allow you to communicate with your professor via email and ask the questions that you may have. Online professors may be able to provide you with more attention since there are fewer students, and email is accessible all hours of the day. You can even take part in discussions with your classmates online.
Online classes may be the best option if you are more mature and feel apprehensive about being surrounded in by students right out of high school. However, if you are open to new experiences, you may discover that there is much to learn from people of different age groups.
Aside from paying for tuition, you should consider the additional costs that exist when taking classes on campus. Books, meals, transportation, and if you have children, you may need to add daycare expenses. If you are struggling financially, you might consider taking classes online where you can save on some of these expenses.
Ability to Use Technology
Online classes will require a certain degree of technology savvy. If you have trouble turning on the computer yourself or differentiating between a keyboard and printer, online classes might not be the best option for you. All assignments, exams, and coursework will be transmitted to you via the Internet. Correspondence with your professors will be through the exchange of emails. If you don’t feel comfortable with the Internet, taking traditional classes may be a better option for you.
Thousands of adult students have earned their degrees online and have never stepped foot on campus. Everything you need to successfully complete a degree is accessible through your computer. You can receive and submit assignments, participate in discussions with classmates and ask your instructor questions whenever necessary. Your online program goes wherever you go, and as long as you have Internet access, and the desire to further your education, your online educational experience will be just as rewarding as those who attend classes on campus.