COVID-19 brought about unprecedented changes for a lot of people. Unsurprisingly, many individuals have been looking into making big career changes and even going back to school to continue their education or advance their careers.
If you’re thinking about returning to college, you might consider online education options. This is a great way to continue working toward your professional and academic goals from home especially during a time when social distancing is a must.
While there are many benefits to online learning, there are several factors you should think about before starting your education online. Learning online is different from learning in person or on-campis. Listed below are some pros and cons to review when contemplating enrolling in an online program as well as a few tips to help you get prepared once you’ve decided to dive in!
Online schooling is a good option if you need a convenient, fast and flexible pathway to a degree. Here are a few benefits of attending online classes:
- Learn anywhere. You can learn remotely from almost anywhere. Your home could become your classroom but you are not limited to studying at home. If you’re tired of studying indoors, you could work from a patio or a park.
- Flexible learning. Online schooling is more flexible than traditional on-campus college programs. You can fit schoolwork more easily into a busy schedule. You’ll also likely have the ability to learn at your own pace, within the parameters of the course and program.
- Focused studying. You can cut out many of the distractions of traditional classes while getting straight to learning the material you need to focus on most. With online learning, you will have more time to focus on the classes that you might struggle with.
- Real-world skills. Online programs help you learn and master skills that you will need in a later career. Being self-disciplined, focused and technologically savvy are attributes that will benefit you long after graduation. Many careers, even those that don't work remotely, require these skills.
While online classes offer a multitude of benefits, they’re not the right fit for every student. Here are a few challenges with online learning:
- Personal discipline. You need to be organized and self-motivated because you won’t see instructors and other faculty in person. You have to remember important due dates, when and what to study, how to study and more.
- Communication. Virtual and written communication skills are a necessity. You’ll need to get comfortable with email and video conversations, in addition to the online learning platform and software used in your program.
- Indepdenence. Online classes can feel impersonal, especially if you’re someone who prefers to collaborate with others. You can work around this by reaching out to and connecting with your classmates online. However, if you prefer studying on your own, then you might be able to be more productive.
- Study space. While some people have a quiet home, others have homes full of distractions that can get in the way of remote learning.You’ll need to have a designated study space to focus on class.
Navigating these challenges can help make you a stronger, more motivated student who will have valuable skills to use in the workforce.
While all these points are a great place to start, you might need to expand both these lists to include specifics from your unique situation.
Tips for Online Learning
If you’ve weighed the pros and cons and decided to attend online classes, you should check out these tips to help find success with online learning:
- Have a plan in case your computer doesn't work.
- Be sure to have a backup plan in case your computer crashes or your internet goes out. This could include borrowing a computer from a family member or going to a friend’s house or the library.
- Back up your work.
- If your computer doesn't work, there’s a chance that you may lose some of your important work and will have to redo it. Try using digital tools such as Google Suite, as well as flash drives to save your work in multiple places and ensure you can access it on other devices.
- Stay organized.
- You are responsible for staying organized, on task and on time. Be sure to set up a space that you can regularly go to and focus. It’s a smart idea to set up a desk with a planner, folders and other organization tools. Try to keep all of your program materials nearby too, including your textbooks, notes and any other items you regularly need.
- Use all of your communication tools and resources.
- Check your email regularly, engage in online discussion groups with classmates, schedule phone calls with instructors if needed, etc. Remember that it’s your responsibility to make the most of your online learning experience.
- Be prepared for interruptions.
- While studying from home, some sort of distractions will inevitably happen whether it be kids or pets, home repairs, work calls, or something else. It’s okay and it happens even to on-campus students! Be sure to have a game plan so you aren’t scrambling to come up with a solution. You might consider talking to everyone in your household about your study needs and important deadlines, so there’s a clear expectation that you won’t be interrupted.
If you’ve weighed the pros and cons and decided that online classes are for you, congrats! You can check out Herzing’s online programs here.