In light of the current epidemic, schools are shutting down, letting out early, or making a desperate shift to implement online education. It’s fair to say that nearly every student is impacted by the coronavirus outbreak, even those who already attend an online school. However, our current unprecedented situation does shed light on some of the shortcomings of traditional on-campus schooling, as well as some of the benefits of at-home schooling through online programs. Now is proving to be the best time to take advantage of online programs, where individuals can earn credits from the comfort (and safety) of their homes.
However, online education has always had its benefits and drawbacks, and it is constantly changing to adapt to the needs of students while implementing new technologies to better the education experience. “Remote” education has laundry lists of pros and cons, especially during these anomalous times — let’s delve into a few key points on either side of the scale.
Structuring Your Schedule
Online education provides students with the opportunity to structure their own schedules as they please. Instead of attending set class times (which are a staple of on-campus schooling), students more often have deadlines. Many online classes have projects, tests, etc., with deadlines, rather than daily attendance. The resources and study materials are available 24/7, so students can move at their own pace and structure their own schedule. That’s ideal for students who are working while earning a degree, or those with other obligations, like raising a child. However, some students may struggle with setting their own schedule, and they may benefit from attending an on-campus college where class times are set, and deadlines are still in place. In short, online schooling may provide an opportunity for students who demand a flexible schedule, and those who have the self-discipline to meet deadlines on their own.
In general, online schooling is far more affordable than on-campus schooling. Resources are made available online, eliminating the need to buy textbooks. Students also don’t have to worry about traveling to and from class. Nor do they need to pay for on-campus housing. With an online program, you can live where you want and have far more control over the cost of “room and board.” Online education can lead to tens of thousands of dollars saved over the course of a program, making it fiscally responsible, if not simply making it possible for certain individuals to earn a degree.
Focus may prove to be either a pro or a con for online education, depending on how an individual prefers to study, and the environment in which they best succeed. Some folks enjoy studying in the classroom, in school libraries, in study spaces, or in-person with study groups. On-campus schools offer those facilities and resources.
Other students prefer to tackle coursework at home, in coffee shops, in the local library, or while they’re on the go. It may take more self-discipline to complete an online program. Or it may be the perfect opportunity to get an education for your lifestyle and individual level of focus.
Obligation to Succeed
Both online and on-campus education programs are structured to help students succeed. However, on-campus programs may make a student feel more obliged to succeed. Attendance may be mandatory for certain classes. And group projects may be more common. Students may feel more obligated to do well when interacting with professors one-on-one or even in a group setting. These obligations may help a student to succeed. On the other hand, some students view these obligations as stressors, rather than beneficial, so this one falls to the eyes of the beholder.
The world is full of extroverts, introverts, and those who fall somewhere in the middle of that spectrum. Online courses better cater to those who don’t desire social interaction integrated with their schooling, while on-campus education provides plenty of opportunity to socialize. That said, nowadays people can still socialize (via platforms like FaceTime or through group chats, etc.) in an online setting, even from thousands of miles away. Meanwhile, some students like to keep their education experiences separate from their social lives, making online education the ideal platform. It really comes down to preference.
Finding Quiet Time
Working on a degree at home may feel like a chore or it may even prove impossible if you find yourself surrounded by distractions. Those enrolled in online courses need to have the discipline to remove themselves from distracting situations or to create a space that is distraction free in order to study. Online education programs encourage students to create a concrete schedule in order to ensure that time is set aside for distraction-free studying. For those who live with roommates, children, or other family members, it’s important to “make” quiet time, either by notifying others that you require time to study, or by leaving the house to find a suitable location. Finding quiet time can be a difficulty for students completing online courses.
Inspiration From Educators and Other Students
Who was your favorite teacher in high school? Did you excel in their course due to their teaching style? On-campus settings may provide inspirational moments from professors as well as other students. For example, live Q and A sessions may be more insightful, and classroom discussions may be more inspiring in a campus setting. That said, online education is closing the gap here through group chats, live video classes, and other opportunities. But some students simply derive more inspiration from in-person meetings and gatherings.
Online programs are usually far more flexible as far as pace. While certain on-campus universities encourage students to attend “full-time” by signing up for a minimum number of classes, online programs often shed those requirements, so that students can work at a pace that works best for their lifestyle and circumstances. Students may be able to take one or two courses per semester, instead of four or five, giving them the freedom to earn an education while working, caring for family members, or focusing on other priorities in life. Of course, students can also ramp up the pace in online learning, signing up for a heavy workload to obtain a degree quickly.
Since online courses are, well, online, it’s easy to adapt to changes in education. Professors can change their course plans on the fly, and they can incorporate daily news in an instant. Online courses can cater to programs surrounding subjects that are changing rapidly. For example, those going into the field of computer programming may benefit from an online education, since coding languages change, and new coding languages are being introduced all the time. Online colleges may prove to be better outfitted to keep up with changing technologies and changing education programs.
Discover Your Path With Pathways College
If you’re seeking an education online, consider Pathways College. We offer business administration and liberal studies programs that are affordable, flexible, and ideal for students nationwide. Feel free to learn more about our liberal studies program, our business administration program, or the other certificate programs that we’ve recently added. Discover the benefits of online education for yourself — discover your path with Pathways College.