Online Classes vs. Traditional Classes
It’s no secret that choosing a degree program is hard, and now that online courses are so popular you also have the decision to choose the learning environment for college. Personally, I always knew I would attend traditional courses at my local University. It was almost a no-brainer to attend this college because of the many degree programs, opportunities, and the advantage of living at home.
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It wasn’t until 2 years of Traditional courses that I decided to enroll in online schooling. There is nothing wrong with attending on-campus courses, but after 2 years of doing this, I got tired of it. The first-degree program I chose was legal studies, and I ended up with a job at a law firm. Turned out that I was learning far more working than I was in my own classes. Even after switching my major I thought this would rid me of the boredom and tedious task of finding parking on campus. Well, it didn’t. I just kept feeling like I was wasting my time.
My thought was I could be learning and making money at the same time while working, so why would I spend 3/4 of my week in class? Of course, I didn’t want to drop out of college because I still wanted and still want a degree. My dad received his Masters in Accounting in 2014 from an online school, while raising 2 kids. My thoughts about online university were that it was only meant for ‘older’ people who worked full-time and had children.
Of course, that isn’t true, but that’s the norm to assume that. I started researching state universities that had online learning programs. The first university I attended had online programs but were much costlier for online learning. Luckily I found a state university that had online learning in many degree programs, for a much lower cost. I applied, enrolled, and soon after landed a full-time job.
All the while I knew that Kyle and I would be moving to Thailand at some point, so online university was perfect for many reasons for me. We were able to save money working full-time, and I can take my courses from anywhere. Of course, it isn’t easy working a 9-6 job and coming home to do my classes. But it’s a choice I made and something you either really love or really hate. For me, I love online learning. Kyle, however, prefers hands on-campus courses.
Lastly, I also had to deal with the ‘what will people think of me’ mentality for a while. Mostly, I think, all my friends finished or are finishing their degrees traditionally- on-campus classes. When I transferred to an online university I even had someone ask if I was still in school! It created a fiery rage, yet also the disappointment, in me that I was the only one who was taking courses virtually.
I had to remind myself of the different lifestyle I chose to live. The first two years of college were fun, with the activities, meeting new people, and the overall life. However, unlike most, I didn’t find satisfaction in my ‘college years’ and I’ve always felt a bit out of place.
Now, I’m not saying that online university is for everyone so here are the pros and cons to online university:
You can Take Classes From Anywhere in the World, for the most part
For me, I’m lucky in that I can complete my coursework overseas. The time difference doesn’t interfere with my learning as I have to schedule for when things need to be done. This allows me to literally live anywhere I want, and still complete university. The only downfall is some online programs don’t allow for this, depending on if their servers are available in other countries.
It also turns out I’m not the only overseas student. I had students in my classes living in South America, China, and Europe! The only pitfall is I have to complete an internship, which will have to be done once I return to the states.
The Ability to Work Full-Time and Save money
This is a pro for me because I needed to save money but I also enjoyed working full-time. Juggling the two isn’t easy but it is possible. My husband and I chose this lifestyle so we could have enough money to save, live on our own, and have 2 dogs.
Not everyone needs to save a tremendous amount of money like we do, but it’s a huge benefit of the online university.
You have to make an effort
I consider making an effort to be a pro because you have to be super-disciplined. This really teaches you that art, which is a huge skill to have in any workforce. It’s up to you when you complete assignments, how soon you’ll complete them, and how much effort you’re willing to put into the course and discussions. Ultimately you don’t have to but your grades will reflect. To me, I enjoy seeing good grades for participation because I’m making an effort to learn.
You can complete the program faster
Not all, but some, programs allow for an accelerated option. Mine does not, but I know this is a reason a lot of people do choose an online program because they can finish faster. Of course, accelerated programs require extra hours and work to be put in, so that you can finish earlier than normal.
You learn the art of virtual communication
Rarely do you have face-to-face interaction with anyone in your classes unless it’s required to do virtual meetings? Communicating with classmates, and professors virtually is an art. You learn how to write professionally and how to make your point come across appropriately and meaningfully. Another important skill you can obtain.
I feel like the past 4 and a half years I have really gotten down the art of creating emails, professionally. Did you even know that was a thing? Emails can be good or bad, so it’s imperative that you have good emailing skills, which is one thing you will learn how to do in online university. Same goes for any online discussion boards, it’s imperative that you learn how to write in a way that resonates with the point you’re trying to get across.
Minimal Social Interaction
So obviously with no face-to-face interaction, there’s literally no social interaction. It’s not impossible to make friends in online university but it’s not a reason that people choose this learning environment. They chose this environment because it fits their lifestyle and it’s convenient for them. So if you enjoy social interaction while learning, online learning may not be for you.
As I mentioned earlier if you do live in another country, and want to take online courses, be sure that the university has servers from wherever. You absolutely must have internet access for online university! If you foresee this being an issue whatsoever, it’s best not to go to online college. Professors don’t care if you’re internet went down at home, regardless you are required to meet deadlines even if that means going to a coffee shop for free wifi.
You need to be Motivated
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in online learning it’s how easy it is to not do anything. It’s easy to not participate, and give 100%. You must be self-disciplined and motivated to learn and participate. Otherwise, you’re paying for classes and not learning very much. What motivates me is knowing that in the end, I have to pay back my student loans, so why not put in the motivation to learn?
You don’t get the on-campus experience
Of course, you don’t get to experience the ‘college lifestyle’ that everyone wants to live. If you do, that’s totally fine! However, you will not get that same experience in an online university. Lucky for me I did have 2 years of on-campus experience, so you have to decide what environment you’re going to flourish in.
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