As millions of Americans consider completing or updating their education to stay competitive in a tough economy, many are choosing to enroll in online accredited schools. Many colleges and universities now offer many if not all of their courses online. In 2007, more than 2.5 million Americans took online-based classes. Online learning offers many advantages, particularly for working adults:
- Flexibility: many E-Learning programs allow students to complete coursework around their own busy schedules.
- Access: students from rural or other areas underserved by traditional campus-based schools can now participate in programs that were previously available only to those fortunate enough to live near a college or university location.
- Diversity: the sheer number of different online schools means that prospective students have a wide variety of degree options to chose from.
But online programs are not necessarily for everyone. Some questions worth asking yourself:
1. Should you be worried that online classes are “too easy?”
Quite simply: no. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that just because a class is offered online, it will be any less rigorous than a similar classroom course. Thousands of American universities, including heavyweights like Harvard and UC Berkeley offer online programs. Indeed, many schools now have cutting-edge interactive elements in their online courses: you might find such courses to be more dynamic than a traditional classroom environment.
2. Are you self-motivated?
Successful online students always possess one key ability: self-motivation. Online learning requires a considerable amount of independent work. Although most colleges and universities provide ways to stay in touch with instructors to voice questions and concerns, online education requires discipline. You’re not in high school anymore: you’ll need to find a way to keep yourself on track and up-to-date, and there won’t be anybody around to nag or prod you. It will be up to you to get your work done.
3. Are you comfortable with computers?
This might seem obvious, but it’s important. Is your computer functioning and up to date? Do you have a reliable Internet connection? Are you familiar with the basics of your computer’s operating system? You don’t have to be a computer whiz, but you do need to know your way around, especially online.
4. Do you like to study on your own, or do you prefer face-to-face interaction?
Online courses aren’t for everyone. If you feel you need the structure of classroom learning, or if you feel that you need to see and hear your professors and classmates, consider traditional “brick and mortar” campuses. Remember, many schools offer the same courses online and on campus. Try to decide which type of program will help you to be a better student. Trust your instincts.
5. Is the subject you want to study a good fit take as an online course?
Some types of degrees work better online. Oftentimes, professions which require extensive hands-on work require extensive hands-on education. If you want a degree in Criminal Justice, Business, or Medical Administration, there are probably thousands of online programs available to you. Similarly, students interested in undergraduate completion should have many options online. However, some programs, like those in vocational or practical nursing and surgery, are rarely offered exclusively online. If you know you want to study something “hands-on,” and would still like to complete coursework online, look into “mixed” programs, where students can take a combination of online and classroom courses.
Online learning is growing for a reason. For millions of students, it offers an affordable, flexible, and convenient way to go back to school. If, after doing the necessary research, you think that E-learning is a good fit for you, then what are you waiting for? Go for it!