Students turn to online courses for a variety of reasons, but here are some of the best reasons to pursue online education. We like to call them the The Five C’s and also included a few of the potential downsides to online learning, so that you have a balanced view:
With online courses, you can learn on your own schedule and even continue working a full-time job in the meantime. Even better, you can read and study during the times of the day when you’re at your most productive and not when the registrar says you should be. Another convenient point is that if you find yourself truly overwhelmed with balancing the workload and your other commitments, you may be able to stop the course and restart when you’re ready.
Keep in mind that for some people, though, the convenience of online courses can quickly turn into a disadvantage; if you’re not adept at organizing and managing your time and commitments, online courses may prove too challenging for you.
Some online courses allow you more control over the learning process, i.e., you can learn at your own pace. You have the freedom to skim subjects you know well from other courses or work experience and instead can spend more time concentrating on other material you find more difficult.
In order for this to be a true advantage, you must be honest with yourself about what you actually know and what you need to spend time reviewing.
Online courses are interactive, which means you will get feedback from your instructors and peers, and possibly even more individualized attention as well. With distance learning, you are immediately connected with students from all over the world, and this type of engagement can greatly enhance your learning process and experience, opening your mind to a variety of viewpoints. And because all your materials will be in one place – on your computer – everything you need will be at your fingertips when it’s time to communicate with teachers or fellow students.
The connectivity of online courses can turn into a disadvantage if you underestimate the time involved with reading class discussions; it is easy to fall behind if you’re not checking your messages daily. You may also crave in-person contact with teachers and other students, so this could be a disadvantage for some as well.
Online courses are usually less expensive than traditional courses, particularly if you’re not financially or otherwise ready to pursue a full degree program. You will save money on travel, books, lodging, and possibly even food. Another advantage regarding cost is that you can budget when to take courses so that if you are feeling cash-strapped one semester, you can always take a break and go back for more courses when your wallet says you can.
No matter what class you’re taking, one of the most important lessons you will learn from taking online courses is how to commit to something and follow through until the end. In order to successfully complete online courses, you must be responsible and manage your time and resources effectively and efficiently, even more so than if you were taking traditional courses in classrooms.
Although it may not be a major reason you choose to pursue online education, the enhancement of your personal growth and commitment is a definite advantage to taking online courses.