It’s just about impossible to deny that online colleges are growing in popularity. It’s also true that online education programs aren’t for everyone, but they’ve definitely provided people who couldn’t otherwise attend college for various reasons the opportunity to earn degrees. If you’re thinking about going to college but have a lot of questions, don’t worry— it’s absolutely normal to have concerns before starting something new.
Last year I returned to college to study graphic design. Even though my degree is in education, I work with websites, so I try to learn as much as possible as often as possible. I’ve got to admit that physically going to class two days per week was also physically draining—mainly because I have a child that needs constant care and attention. In my situation, my husband was able to stay with her while I was in class, but single parents and people whose spouse works “regular hours” aren’t as fortunate. Online college classes would probably be better in this scenario because they could log on and do their work at their own schedule.
There are plenty of other reasons that online college might be the choice for you. Maybe you have a full-time job and live too far away from campus to travel there regularly. Maybe your work schedule varies so much that it would be just about impossible to go to classes on certain days of the week. Maybe you just like the idea of going to college online! A lot of people in the military are even taking college courses online while they serve their country. If you think you want to take your college classes online, there are a few things you should consider before you dive in headfirst.
Going to college takes a lot of motivation and self-discipline, especially if “college” happens in your living room, a spare bedroom, or wherever your computer happens to be at the moment. Taking your classes online definitely provides flexibility, but it also requires a lot more self-discipline than you might realize.
Do you honestly see yourself sitting down at your desk to work and study while the rest of your family is home? Will you really be able to turn off the TV and avoid other distractions, such as checking your email every 5 minutes or logging onto Facebook just because you’re online?
If you have questions for your instructor, will you be willing to wait for answers? You’ll have to email them and wait for your response, unlike the traditional classroom setting where you can raise your hand and have them answer you then and there.
You wouldn’t fork over the money to buy a car before taking it out for a test drive, but you’re going to be expected to pay for each semester of your online college tuition before taking the classes. That reason alone is enough to dig deeper once you’re made the decision to start school online.
Do you know anyone who earned their college degree online? If so, talk to them and see what they have to say about their program. Ask them if it was it what they expected it to be. Were they able to get a promotion or a better job after graduation? Advertisements for the school and their representatives are definitely going to make everything sound wonderful, so talk to someone who won’t sugar-coat things.
Do you know anyone who is currently taking classes online? Most likely, yes, even if it’s remotely … you probably have a friend-of-a-friend or a relative or a co-worker out there taking classes through an online college, and you can probably find someone to talk to.
Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.
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