The fully online university degree is nothing new. Schools around the world offer the option today, and there is a wide range of majors available. But that doesn’t mean going to school online is the best choice for every student. And being tech-savvy shouldn’t be the determining factor.
So, how do you choose between the traditional university experience and the wave of the future? Ask yourself these questions and see if the picture doesn’t get clearer.
Is Your Major Available as an Online University Degree?
Many subjects are appropriate for online learning. English, mathematics, social sciences, computers and technology and history can all be learned without being in a classroom. But some courses need hands-on experience that might be unattainable outside of a university.
Lab sciences like chemistry aren’t necessarily ideal for distance learning, and many medical skills require a hands-on approach. Public speaking can’t be managed (effectively) on your own, and certain mechanical or engineering style classes might be better attended in person.
Before you fall in love with the idea of online learning, make sure your chosen field has online degrees available.
Does Your Ideal University Offer Online Degrees?
Even as more universities embrace online learning, not every school offers the option. If you have your heart set on a specific educational institution, then your options are dictated by them.
As reported by the BBC, some universities hesitate to use the technology for fear of damaging their reputations. For example, Princeton University does not offer online degrees at this time. However, some of the coursework is available through online learning platforms like Coursera. But taking classes through an online learning platform does not mean you can apply that learning to a degree program.
Do You Have the Technology?
To attend classes online, you need to have all of the required technology. This includes a suitable computer and internet connection. As covered by US News, an online education only works if you can access the materials. Review all of the requirements and make sure that you have access before you sign up for classes.
Do You Need Help In Person?
If you attend classes online, that is where your help will come from too. That means, if you run into difficulties, you need to be prepared to handle the challenges in writing via chat or email, or better be prepared to research the answers yourself.
Even when you are part of a large class, most online work is independent. You must be confident in your abilities to find the solutions you need, or online courses may not be the best choice.
Why Do You Want to Go to University Online?
The idea of taking classes from home is appealing to many, but most working towards an online degree have more reasons than simple comfort. Often, online degrees offer more flexibility regarding when work must be completed. This is ideal for students with otherwise demanding schedules. For example, if you work full time, then an online degree might be more realistic than quitting to go to school. Similarly, students with children may favour an online degree so that they can remain at home.
Do You Have the Discipline?
Going to university requires discipline even when you attend classes in person. But having the drive to complete your work when you don’t have to adhere to a specific schedule is a different beast. Before signing up for an online degree, you need, to be honest with yourself about your level of dedication. If you can’t focus without an outside push, then an online degree isn’t for you.
Are You Willing to Miss Out?
The university experience is irreplaceable. You will meet new people, do interesting things, and have opportunities that home-based learners miss. By getting your degree online, you miss out on the university experience. And you have to decide if that is a sacrifice you are willing to make.
After considering these points, you’ll know if an online degree is a reasonable choice. Your education is serious, so don’t make a snap decision you might regret. Instead, consider your future and make the best choice for your personal goals.