Life is busy. Between jobs, relationships, kids, and many (failed) attempts at a personal time, it’s hard to imagine trying to go back to school. Or, maybe you’ve tried the traditional classroom and found that it just wasn’t your “thing.” In either case, online learning may provide what you need to get started on (or finish) your college degree. Despite being an effective alternative to in-classroom learning, there are a lot of negative misconceptions about online learning. Here’s the nitty-gritty of what online learning really means:
Online classes DON’T:
- Mean you’re not actually going to school. You’re a student at whatever institution you’re enrolled in, just the same as anyone who happens to live on campus.
- Give you a “free pass” to a degree. You still have to work just as hard as a traditional student.
- Require you to be a computer whiz. It’s okay if you don’t know how to program a website or understand HTML code. As long as you know how to connect to the internet and type at a computer, you’re 90% there.
- “Cheapen” the college experience. Online learning makes college more accessible to people who can’t make it to a physical classroom. While online courses may not teach the same beyond-the-classroom lessons as living on-campus, there are still many opportunities to learn beyond the class materials.
Online classes DO:
- Grant you the freedom to learn on your own time. You set your own schedule, you complete your classwork on your own timeline within structured deadlines (usually weekly).
- Let you reach out to your classmates and professors at any time. You don’t need to be available during office hours, just send an email (or, some classes have discussion boards specifically for questions and answers).
- Require self-discipline. There is more independence in online classes than you’re likely to find in a traditional classroom setting. You don’t have the physical classroom to go back to as a motivation to shame yourself into completing your assignments.
- Allow you to network with students who don’t live on campus. Online classes attract people from different areas of the world and different walks of life, these are people you might not have had the chance to meet even on a diverse campus.
- Let you take your classes anywhere. Kids’ track meet running late? You can hop online and finish that discussion board assignment.
- Give traditional students a chance to continue working toward their degree even when they can’t come back to campus. There are many reasons why a student may need to take a semester away from campus, but that doesn’t always mean they have to put a pause on their education.
- Allow you to go to class in your pajamas. It’s okay, no one will judge you.