Most of us are pretty busy. We usually have work, household stuff, socializing, family responsibilities, and a host of other possible chores and errands. So, when we want to improve our education or skill set, online education automatically pops up as a viable option.

Online education is convenient, allowing us to learn at our own speed and around our tight schedules. Also, a wide array of online universities are now considered to be as high quality as their brick-and-mortar counterparts. They now feature instructors who are just as credible and skilled as the professors that students encounter at top tier universities. However, the flexibility and convenience of online education can be a double-edged sword.

To a certain degree, online education is a solitary learning experience which requires discipline and self-motivation. The student can't rely too heavily on socialization with a professor or other students as these aspects are very limited in online courses. Also, instead of receiving a list of dates by which assignments will be due, most online courses give you a lot of flexibility in handing in your assignments. This makes it easy to procrastinate and eventually forget about assignments, quizzes, and things learned. Without a class to be at, an attendance roll to check off, or group members depending on you, it can be too easy to slack off and eventually just waste the course altogether.

So, be honest with yourself. Can you realistically handle this online education thing or not? To help you decide, check out the list below of attributes of successful online students:

1. Strong time manager

Given your busy schedule, try to imagine where you will fit in several hours of study time per week. No professor will be there to scold you and kick you in the rear. No other students will invite you to have a study group with them. The whole cute-girl-in-your-class incentive is removed since you can't really interact with, much less see, the other people in your class. Debbie36 may write pretty, but she could also be a fifty-year old chain smoker who cage wrestles on the weekends. Given the lack of the usual motivators, it is imperative that you know how to manage your time. You must be organized enough to sit down every week and plan out when you will study, when you will take tests, submit assignments, and so on. This won't happen without some concerted planning and effort. If you can't plan to save your life, online education might be risky for you.

2. Internally motivated

You would be surprised how much of a barrier that computer screen puts between you and the instructor. There is no having a warm chat with them after class. There's no more joking with them. Worst of all, you can turn them off, put them in a corner, and forget about them. Unless you log in, no voice will call to you from the computer and ask you why you've stopped. You must be able to drive yourself without having those physical reminders that usually accompany a college education. You will need to stick to your commitment to finish that class even though it's so easy to turn it off. Of course, it helps to have a grander purpose in mind than just adding a new degree to your resume. Perhaps, this class will allow you to be promoted to a managerial position. Maybe that certification will allow you to make the career change you've been planning on. These are great incentives to get the class done right and on time. If you don't have these kinds of incentives available, consider creating one. Online education is not really a fun luxury activity. You don't do it just for the heck of it. It's costly, challenging, and time-consuming. Make sure if you're going to do it, you have a good reason to keep you motivated.

3. Interested in the topic

One thing that might help you stay focused is if the topic is something you are actually interested in. Sitting in front of a computer screen and watching a little man babble about microeconomics is pretty difficult when the stuff puts you into a comatose state. It's even worse if the lectures are just texts that you read. The only way to get through online courses is to have a decent level of interest in the subject. You don't have to be in love with it, but you do need to be interested enough to sit through hours of it in the sleep-inducing quiet of your home. This is especially true if you will be studying at night after a hard days work. Be realistic with yourself. Decide what you can and cannot put up with. Don't waste your money on courses that you will sleep through and learn nothing from.

4. Disciplined

Finally, getting through online courses takes discipline. Other more exciting things will arise. Your spouse will suggest that you go catch a movie. Your friends will try to persuade you to attend their weekly Desperate Housewives-watching party. Your brother is calling you to watch paint dry. Almost anything is more exciting than sitting down to study federal accounting history. Only discipline and self-control will allow you to say no and sit in front of that computer screen when everyone else is partying. Now, most people like to think of themselves as disciplined. They can say no to that third plate of fried chicken or limit themselves to only five hours of Halo 3 instead of the usual seven. Given the large investment involved in online education, I strongly recommend that you seriously evaluate your ability to stick with this commitment.

Can you sit down regularly in front of a computer screen all by yourself for hours each week? Can you say no when other more flashy options come along? If your answer is yes, online education may be for you.

[lavalinx code=”55|110|12682″]

2 comments on “Is Online Education Right For You?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *