With many people either unemployed or underemployed, increasing numbers of people are pursuing continuing education in its many forms. Employees may be trying to earn an advanced degree in their field or break into an entirely new field. No matter what their ultimate goal is, many people consider online education at one point or another. They may see a commercial about taking classes online, read a brochure, and wonder if online education is the answer for them. If you are asking yourself the same question, here are several factors that will help you to determine whether or not online education is right for you.
One of the best aspects of online education is the potential for a very flexible schedule. Many people who pursue online education do so because they can arrange their school schedule around a job or a family life. Because online classes are collaborative there is no specified meeting time. Papers and assignments with due dates can be completed in the evenings or during other down times. Discussions are often via message board and students can participate on their own schedules. This flexibility enables people who would be unable to commit to a traditional class schedule to successfully complete online coursework.
In addition to enabling you to set your own class schedule, this kind of education allows you to work towards a degree at your own pace. At a traditional college you are often expected to take a certain number of credits per semester or per quarter. By contrast, with this type of education you can take one or two classes at a time. This can also be easier financially since it makes it more likely that you will be able to pay for your classes as you are taking them rather than having to borrow money for tuition or because you are unable to work while going to school.
In general, online education is an excellent choice for people who are self-motivated. With online education, there no one there to tell you that you need to be keeping up with your reading or working on a paper. It is up to you to make sure that you are staying caught up and doing your best. This means that online education is not a very good choice for people who need lots of accountability and handholding in order to complete tasks and assignments. With this type of education you are accountable for the final product that you produce, but it is up to you to actually motivate yourself along the way.
In addition to being self-motivated, there are a few other things that are necessary in order for your online education to be successful. Obviously you need to have access to a computer with reliable internet access. However, this could involve a laptop with free internet at a library or coffee shop. Lastly, you need to be willing to put the time in that will be required. Online education is flexible but that does not make it any easier than traditional college classes. Online classes will still require significant effort if you want to do well.