When you are deciding whether to pursue your education online, there are more than a few things to consider.
The flexibility of online students’ schedules and the fact that they can be anywhere in the world are great when you are traveling for business or the military, or if you just want that added convenience.
[Discover questions to ask about flexibility in online programs.]
Before you sign up, here are four things you might not know about online programs that can help you decide if one is right for you.
1. Some online courses or programs still have in-person requirements. While many schools offer online programs, some aren’t entirely virtual or away from campus. You may find yourself on campus or another location eventually for components such as clinical nursing requirements or biology labs.
2. Not all your credits will transfer. Even if you need just a quick social science class to finish up a degree at your brick-and-mortar school, make sure your online course credits will transfer the way you expect before you enroll. However, if your online school is not regionally accredited, you run the risk of not getting any credit at all.
When you transfer credits from school to school, you almost always run the risk that they won’t count toward your degree the way you intended. For example, a course may count toward a marketing degree at one school but would be considered an elective credit at your online college.
3. You’ll spend hours each week on your computer. Online courses might require you to log in and participate in online discussion boards as often as once a day or a few times a week, in addition watching or listening to lectures, participating in group projects and completing other assignments.
[Learn the number of hours online students study each week.]
Some online courses are more rigorous than traditional classes, and when you add up the time commitment, they may require you to spend even more time on coursework each week. You will have to weigh if your schedule and location far from campus are good enough reasons to consider online learning.
4. A lot of self-discipline is required. With online learning, you are the one in charge of your schooling. Learning to balance your time with other obligations like work and family can be challenging.
Online learning isn’t for everyone. If you love to read and can retain information that way, online education is definitely something to consider. If you have a hard time sitting at a desk, are slow at typing or don’t enjoy using technology, online learning will be more difficult and less appealing.
The takeaway: Despite the great advantages of online education, these types of programs aren’t for everyone. They take just as much hard work each week as traditional education as well as a lot of self-discipline. Students should research any on-campus requirements before they enroll.