Are Online Courses Right for You?

Ask Yourself 10 Questions Before Signing Up for Online Courses

Online courses can offer tremendous opportunities and open career doors, but before you sign up, ask yourself the following 10 questions:

  1. Am I comfortable using a computer, the Internet, and email?
    You don’t have to be a computer expert by any means, but you should have a good working knowledge of computers and possibly even certain software programs, depending on your course.
  2. Do I have reliable access to the Internet?
    All the computer knowledge in the world won’t help you succeed in online courses if you can’t count on your Internet connection. And since connections can fail at any time, be sure to have a back-up plan as well, perhaps a local Internet cafe or even a trusted friend’s computer if you’re on a deadline.
  3. Do I enjoy working and learning on my own, at my own pace?
    Online courses are great because many give you the freedom to be an independent learner, but if that isn’t something you enjoy or excel at, online courses may not be right for you.
  4. Do I have the time and energy to commit to online courses?
    Don’t be fooled into thinking that online courses take less time and energy than traditional courses on campus; you’ll save time on travel, but you’ll also be spending a lot more time on online discussions.
  5. Do I manage time effectively?
    Taking online courses mean that you decide when you will read and learn materials, participate in discussions, and study; you must be able to plan your schedule on your own taking into account all of your obligations.
  6. Do I need a flexible schedule?
    If you have work or family commitments that require flexibility in scheduling, online courses may be the right option for you as you continue your education.
  7. Am I comfortable asking for help and more information from instructors and peers?
    Throughout your online courses, you will most likely encounter times when you need to ask for help: you may be assigned material that is difficult to understand or face technical issues if your school’s system is down. You may need to contact your instructor and/or peers on a regular basis, so you should be comfortable reaching out on your own.
  8. Am I a strong reader, and do I enjoy text-based learning?
    Although online courses often include some visual components, for the most part you will be learning through reading texts, materials, and email discussions. College-level reading and comprehension is still required in online courses.
  9. Am I driven, motivated, and capable of pushing myself to succeed?
    Your success in online courses is almost entirely up to you and your desire to learn, so you need to know how to push yourself to do your very best without having an instructor or fellow students in your face to offer motivation.
  10. Is there an online course I’m interested in taking?
    So you’ve answered all the questions above and you think online courses are for you? Well now is the time to find out whether online courses are offered in your discipline. Course offerings are growing all the time, but some industries offer many more opportunities than others, so be sure to have a good look around to determine whether online courses are an option for you.