In today’s ever-changing, technologically advanced society, there are more options than ever available for finishing a degree.
Want to stay local? You’re no longer confined by your geographic locations and work schedule, but rather are now free to choose a degree from any one of the several thousand institutions of higher learning in the U.S. and abroad.
However, be warned: Just because there are many online degrees to choose from doesn’t mean they are all right for you.
How do you know if distance learning is the best option for you? How do you know if you will learn better in a face-to-face environment or online? Here are some questions to help you decide.
• Do you work well alone? Yes No
• Will you feel motivated without regular Yes No
personal contact with your instructor?
• Will you complete assignments regularly without reminders? Yes No
• Do you have 10 to 15 hours a week to devote to schoolwork? Yes No
• Can you learn by reading alone instead of listening to a lecturer? Yes No
• Do you have regular access to a computer and the Internet? Yes No
• Are you comfortable using word processing and spreadsheet software? Yes No
• Are you self-disciplined? Yes No
• Do you communicate well in writing? Yes No
• Do you adapt easily to new learning environments? Yes No
• Do you tend to work ahead of schedule? Yes No
• Do you have extensive work and/or family commitments? Yes No
If you answered mostly NO
If you: • Need constant contact with your instructor and peers • Enjoy working as part of a group • Communicate better verbally than in written form • Have not yet mastered solid time-management skills...
...Then you would probably do better in a traditional, on-campus environment.
If you answered mostly YES
If you: • Have a work or personal life that does not allow you the ability to attend classes at preset times each week • Work better individually • Are comfortable with technology and enjoy changing learning environments...
...Then online degrees may be the answer. Distance learning students are generally very organized self-starters who work well independently with limited reminders on assignments and due dates.
If you think that distance learning might work for you but are nervous about making that kind of commitment, look for an institution that offers blended or hybrid courses. These courses offer the best of both worlds. They incorporate aspects of both the on-campus and online environments.
Individual setups vary depending on the institution; as a general rule of thumb, however, these courses will meet half as frequently as traditional on-campus courses and allow you the ability to submit your work and communicate via the Internet.
It is important have a good understanding of your learning style before you enroll in your first class. If you are unsure as to how well you will do in the online environment or if your schedule will not allow you to attend a traditional online course every term, try to find an institution that offers both. This will allow you the flexibility you need to be successful in reaching your educational goals.
Christine Javery is the manager of student services and academic advising with distance education at Southern New Hampshire University.