Is Online Distance Learning for You?

If you want to earn a certificate or degree, or simply to enhance your work skills and experience, but you find yourself unable to attend traditional courses for one reason or another then online distance learning may be just the thing for you.

You may be a parent who works full-time and doesn't want to give up what little time you have with your kids to commute to campus and sit through a lecture. Or you may have child care issues that are preventing you from enrolling. You might be a disabled or retired person who finds it challenging to get to a location where traditional courses are offered. Or you may live in a rural area and can't bear the thought of driving a couple of hours or more just to take a class. Online distance learning addresses all of these problems with traditional courses. It doesn't require a commute to an other location and, for the most part, you can work on courses at your convenience.

Convenience and financial rewards are appealing reasons to pursue an online degree. However, there are a few things to consider about yourself. Do you have personal characteristics that will help you succeed if you take courses online?

  • You need to be committed to your pursuit of a certificate or degree. Just because a course is offered online doesn't mean it's going to be easier than its traditional counterpart. In fact, many online courses have been proven to be more rigorous and challenging than their off-line equivalents.

  • You really need to be highly motivated. There will be times when you feel like you're all alone, with no one to turn to for advice or feedback. You'll have to keep your end goal in mind and have the drive to continue on.

  • It will help if you're well organized and disciplined. You'll have to make yourself study for exams and complete assignments, just as you would if you were taking a traditional course. This means you'll have to schedule your time judiciously.

  • You need to be a self-directed learner because you'll be handling much of your course planning and scheduling yourself. You may even be required to prepare and adhere to a learning contract, which is a legal document you and your school's representative agree to that outlines your educational goals, how you intend to meet them, and how your progress will be evaluated.

  • You need access to a computer that meets certain requirements. If you don't have a computer at home, you may be able to use one where you work.

  • It also helps if you actually enjoy sitting in front of your computer, working alone for relatively long periods of time (a couple of hours at a time).

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