How to choose the right online college for you!

Although taking distance learning courses offers you benefits such as flexibility and gas and commuting savings, attending online schools is not for everyone.  Disadvantages of online college are generally related to your personal learning styles and preferences, as courses covered at online and offline colleges and universities are often similar. 

If you want flexibility and the opportunity to choose when you complete college assignments and take examinations, online college might be the right choice for you.  You can also juggle a full-time job and school simultaneously if you enroll in undergraduate and/or graduate distance learning courses.  However, and as with many options in life, there are disadvantages to attending an online college.  Some of the disadvantages may be noticed by you and your classmates, while other disadvantages might be noticed by you and your professors.

Disadvantages associated with online colleges include:

  • Lack of supervision (you are responsible for ensuring you complete school work on time)
  • Face-to-face support (your college professors won’t be in front of you to answer questions right away or to review projects you’re working on and suggest improvements you can make to the projects)
  • You might not be allowed to turn your college assignments in after deadline dates pass
  • If you don’t have existing computer knowledge, it might take you longer to complete distance learning courses (you also might have to pay to take computer courses to get up to speed on laptops, desktops and other technology systems)
  • Inability to meet and connect with your classmates (you can learn a lot about courses you’re taking by meeting with your classmates and asking them if they’re having difficulties with certain college textbook chapters, etc. and what they’re doing to overcome those challenges)
  • Communications with your academic advisors and career counselors limited to mostly email and telephone conversations
  • Requirement to purchase laptops, desktop computers and software programs to complete distance learning classes

Deciding Whether Online College Is Right For You

Talk with family members and other students who’ve taken distance learning courses.  Even if these people didn’t get college degrees they can help you measure whether or not a virtual classroom setting suits your personality and learning styles.  You can also visit college and university discussion boards, post questions about distance learning courses and review the feedback.

Before you enroll in distance learning programs at an online college make sure that you are disciplined, have solid time and project management skills and can hold yourself accountable for starting and completing college assignments before they are due.  Also make sure that you’re self-motivated and know how to encourage yourself should your grades start to slide or one or more courses you take start to challenge you to the point where you wonder if you can complete the course.  To minimize the disadvantages of taking online college courses keep in regular contact with your academic advisors and your college or university professors, keeping them apprised of your goals, concerns you have about classes you’re taking and your efforts to land jobs through college internships, fellowships and/or work study programs.

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