Whether you are an undergraduate who is just starting out with your tertiary education, or whether you are a graduate student looking to boost your career by studying further or specializing within a specific area, you will have a number of important decisions to make. One of those decisions will be choosing between attending a traditional college campus or taking an online course.
The reality is that online learning promises a broad array of benefits, especially when it comes to convenience and flexibility – but it isn’t for everyone. Here are the facts that you need to know in order to ascertain whether or not it is a good fit for you.
What are the advantages of studying online?
As already mentioned, the primary benefit of online learning is its flexibility. You will have the opportunity to slot your studies into your schedule, rather than building a schedule that revolves around your studies. Furthermore, there is no need to travel to campus every day and you won’t have to attend lectures or tutorials in person. All of this will take place digitally and from the comfort of your own home, saving you time and money as a result. Ultimately, it is up to you to decide when you are going to study, and where to do it.
Another advantage of studying online is the fact that it is almost always cheaper than studying a full-time degree at a traditional college. If funds are tight but you still want to pursue a higher education, online learning is the solution that could help to reduce the need to apply for a student loan.
Many students studying digitally also claim that it is easier to access support when you need it. Most high-quality universities make it possible to get in touch with lecturers and mentors whenever necessary via a user-friendly student portal, or via telephone and email. Considering that in-person conversations are rarely possible, lecturers and mentors usually get back to you a lot quicker than they would in a traditional university setting.
Finally, you can be sure that you will learn more than just your course materials when you opt to embrace online learning. You will also pick up a host of important life skills along the way that will help you to excel within both your personal and professional lives. For instance, studying online teaches self-discipline. There is nobody around to ‘force’ you to attend lectures or to figure out a problematic paragraph in your textbook. It is up to you to succeed, and while there will be lots of support available, the onus is on you to get things done.
Along with self-discipline, you will hone your communication skills, too. In many cases, you will have to communicate with lecturers and classmates in written form rather than verbally, and this can encourage you to improve your writing skills and to convey ideas, questions, or comments more clearly.
What kind of students prefer online learning?
Online learning is a clever solution for individuals who want to further their education, but who also have a few other responsibilities to take care of at the same time. For example, those who want to continue working part-time while they study may find that online learning affords them the flexibility to do so. Nursing students, in particular, will often find online learning to be the best bet. Luckily, there are plenty of online neonatal nurse practitioner programs and other DNP programs available to choose from.
Parents who do not have extra money on hand for childcare will also find it convenient to study online rather than on campus. Further to this, online learning is a great option for individuals who do not cope well in crowds or in social situations, such as those who have been diagnosed with anxiety disorders.
In short, online learning is a worthwhile alternative for anyone and everyone and, although the average online university student is in their early 30s, it is becoming increasingly popular across a wide variety of different age groups.
How can I boost my chances of success when studying online?
The most important factor is that you are 100% dedicated to giving it your all and making it work for you in your current situation. You should be exceptionally passionate about what you decide to study, too, as this is what will keep you going even in those moments when you are feeling demotivated or exhausted.
The most successful online students are those who work hard on developing and maintaining their sense of self-discipline. There won’t be anyone looking out for you to remind you to complete that assignment and hand it in before the deadline, or to revise last week’s coursework before a test. So, do your best to avoid the temptation to procrastinate and try to create a flexible daily schedule to help keep you on track.
Essentially, along with self-discipline, online learning also requires above-average time management skills. You will need to fit your studies into your existing lifestyle and do it without burning out in the process. Be sure to schedule time for your studies and other responsibilities, but do not forget to set aside some time to unwind and de-stress. Aim for a bare minimum of 30 minutes’ worth of ‘me-time’ every day.
Finally, you need to take action to remain inspired. Continually remind yourself why you are pursuing your degree and how much you have managed to achieve so far. If ever you find yourself confused or stumped, do not hesitate to reach out for assistance. It is vital that you steer clear of creating gaps in your foundational knowledge as it can prove difficult to ‘fill them in’ the longer you wait to ask questions and seek guidance.
So, if you are ready for a new challenge and you are serious about taking your education and your studies to the next level, there is no reason why you cannot make online learning work. Grab the opportunity with both hands and make the most of it! Good luck.