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Is Online Education Right For You?

Is Online Education Right For You?

Education has come a long way.  No longer do we have to quit our jobs, move away and live in a dorm to attain a higher education.  Learning now comes to us.  
Advancements in technology have changed the way we study and online education is now more available, more efficient, and more valued than ever before.  In the past, online certifications did not carry the same weight as traditional education but those days are over.  It is now widely regarded by the education community that online education is an acceptable and productive means of furthering one’s education.   Classrooms are no longer the only place where students can receive career training.

With the prevalence of online programs skyrocketing over the last few years, more and more students have made the choice to forego a traditional education in favor of online training. 
However, while learning online can be the ultimate fit for some, it is not the most appropriate choice for everyone.  Your best bet when deciding which type of schooling is right for you is to weigh your options and understand the pros and cons of each.  By comparing the advantages and disadvantages of each, you can decide whether a classroom or online is the better option for you.

Online Education Advantages:

•    Convenience and Accessibility – This is probably the biggest advantage of studying online versus in a classroom.  You are able to decide when and where you study and for how long.  In many cases, you proceed through your program at your own pace.  Since you are not bound to a classroom, you are able to study wherever there is a computer and internet access.  This means that your studies can be scheduled around your work and social life much more easily than a traditional education.  As well, geographic limitations are not an issue for online classrooms so students may pursue an education from anywhere in the world.

•    Cost – Online courses tend to be less expensive than their campus-based counterparts.  In addition to the lower program costs, you may also see savings in transportation as the need for bus passes, gas, and parking are eliminated when commuting to school is no longer necessary.  Additionally, you may also save on housing and food costs since dorm living and meal plans can be quite expensive on campus. 

•    Independence – Students have a great deal of independence since much of their studies are self-directed.  They are able to control their learning environment by progressing through courses at their own pace and studying from any location at any time of day.  Everything from choosing a school, to signing up for a tour, to enrolling and picking courses, to graduation can be achieved on your own time.

Online Education Disadvantages:

•    Instructor Interaction – One of the big drawbacks to online learning is that students typically do not have the opportunity for face-to-face interaction with their instructors.  While instructors are available online, students who may require more guidance may find the lack of face time to be a deterrent.  

•    Social Interaction – Many students look forward to the social aspect of campus life including group activities, clubs, events and study groups.  While online courses offer opportunities for virtual interaction including chat rooms, message boards and instant messaging options, those students looking for the classic campus life should opt for a traditional education. 

•    Self-directed Study- For some, the ability to control your own education can be a welcome change to the rigid classroom environment.  However, it is important to remember that online students must be self-disciplined in order to complete assignments, readings, reports and exams on time.   Taking the initiative to meet deadlines and stay on track can be a challenge for some.

As you can see, there are advantages and disadvantages to both types of learning environments.  While online education can be convenient, less expensive and flexible it is not always the right choice for prospective students.  Online education loses points for the lack of interaction, both with classmates and instructors.  If face time is an important aspect of your educational journey, then online education may not be the appropriate pick for you. 

Also, the self-directed nature of online learning can be viewed as both a negative and a positive depending on personality types.  If you have trouble motivating yourself or lack the discipline to remain committed to a course, you would probably fare better in a classroom that enforces attendance and deadlines.  For others, however, this freedom to log into learning from wherever, whenever is the ideal method of becoming certified or learning new skills.  Whether you’re looking to start a new career or upgrade your current skills, you can be sure there is a school that will meet your needs.  The best choice for education is the option that compliments your lifestyle and your personality.

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