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The obvious advantage to enrolling in an online school is the flexibility that it allows professionals at every level. “If you’re a working mother, you can put the kids to bed and then go to class,” says Kaplan University Provost David Clinefelter, Ph.D. Even though online programs can provide a rich learning experience for those seeking to boost their skill sets, this very seemingly informal structure is not for everyone. Independent and disciplined students will do very well, says Clinefelter.
For people who tend to procrastinate, the flexibility of an online program and freedom to complete assignments on your time can be disastrous.
There are several factors to consider to determine if his online schooling is right for you:
The workload is not easier or lighter online. “Some students feel that this is easier because it’s online, but they’re in for a big shock,” says Clinefelter. Online courses can involve as much or even more work than traditional classes and require students to be independent, self-motivated learners.
Be prepared for large amounts of reading and to participate heavily in virtual discussions. Even though the amount of work may turn some people off, Clinefelter sees it as motivating. “It forces participation. You can’t just sit in the back of the class and daydream. You have to be engaged. It’s active learning.”
It’s not your typical classroom. For some people, the lack of face-to-face contact can be a big drawback of online courses. For some people, the camaraderie and social aspect of attending class is just as important as the knowledge gained from the courses. “The general perception is that it [distance learning] is impersonal,” explains Clinefelter. “It turns out that that’s false. People’s personalities and sense of humor come out online.” If not being in a physical classroom with other students is a problem for you, then you might want to consider attending a traditional school or attending an online course that also involves an in-person residency.
Whichever way you fall, knowing the details of online learning can help you decide whether this type of learning is right for you.
Previously in the series: How Legitimate Are Online Schools?