Online education comes attached with many perks. It allows you to pace yourself, gives you time to pursue other goals, offers flexibility, and some of the programs can be a lot more affordable than regular on-campus programs. However, it also has its share of challenges.
If you are someone who is used to the traditional classroom set up, it may not be easy to study using a different format.
So what are the challenges of online programs and how can you jump these hurdles without breaking a sweat?
#1 The Balancing Act
If you are opting for an online program because you have a full-time job or other personal commitments that don’t allow you to go to regular college, chances are you will be juggling multiple commitments. This may lead you to miss assignments or rush through assignments to make time for other priorities.
You could scout for programs that make real time sessions and webinars mandatory, as you can’t get away with skipping them and are forced to make time for them in your busy schedule.
#2 Bringing in Discipline
Procrastination can rear its alluring head especially when you have no structure to fall back on. It is imperative that you have a schedule that you’ll stick to, and you must learn to be accountable. You could check in with a friend each week, or partner with another student so that you stick to your plan of action.
This can be a challenge but if you manage to get past it, you are on your way to becoming a self-motivated individual – more power to you!
#3 Learning Together
Some people are independent learners, others aren’t. If you are concerned about not getting to interact with your peers or instructors as you would in on-campus classes, take heart, you are not alone. Many online programs give you the chance to attend real-time sessions with fellow students.
There may be mandatory on-campus classes where you’ll get to interact with the faculty and students. These are known as hybrid programs.
Some programs may also have social media groups where you can interact with others informally. If another student stays close to you, you could plan a regular study meet to get out of the monotony of studying alone.
#4 Where Do You Stand?
When you are choosing a program, find out about the school’s feedback system. How do instructors give feedback and evaluate your assignments? How and when can you clarify your questions? How accessible are instructors? Programs may have peer feedback in place or forums where you can post questions and participate in discussions.
Some programs include one-on-one interactions with a faculty member who’ll guide you through projects and your thesis. This is important because it is easy to lose your way when you are studying in isolation.
#5 Tech – Your New BFF
Online education is flourishing thanks to technology and the various platforms that make education more engaging. While you are not expected to be a tech whiz, you’ve got to be comfortable with technology to be able to learn via technology. Some of the universities offer demo videos to show you how it works.
There are certain technology requirements that are a prerequisite to taking up online classes. Read the fine print, ask questions, learn your way around the virtual world, and know the basics of troubleshooting problems that may occur.
Remember that online classes are known for their flexibility and may cost less. That doesn’t make them easy. Online programs are more often than not as rigorous as full-time programs. A compromise on commitment is a definite no-no and is not a perk of online education.