How do I Know if Online College is For Me?

Online college is becoming increasingly popular among both young and adult students who want to earn their degree. One of the main reasons why online distance education programs are so popular is because they are convenient and they offer students a great amount of flexibility.

While online programs come with advantages, they are not designed for every type of student. As you are comparing different programs, it is important that you consider the instruction style and whether or not it matches your learning style.

Are Online College Programs Effective?

One of the main concerns that students who are interested in online learning have is about efficiency. You want to get a good education that you can take with you when you find a career, and believe it or not, online classes can offer you this. A great deal of research has been dedicated to comparing traditional and online programs to measure efficiency.

The studies that have been conducted recently have found that students have the potential to be just as successful in college if they take their classes online. In fact, the success rates for students who have taken their program predominantly online can be demonstrated through a study by the Research in Higher Education Journal. According to the study, online learners earn more credits than classroom learners and are more likely to graduate on-time.

Which Learning Style is Best for Online Programs

While some students find online programs to be their best option, learning online is not for everyone. You really need to sit down and consider how you prefer to learn before you go for any alternative instruction delivery format. In the online environment, some styles are equipped to succeed and others are not.

If you are a visual and verbal learner who learns best with lectures in written form, online learning is perfect for you. You enjoy being in a quiet environment and you love to work independently. Visual/non-verbal learners who prefer seeing graphics and images also find online portals to be a great option.

Verbal and auditory learners could struggle a bit online if the instructor does not offer audio or video lectures. The group discussion dynamic is also very important for verbal and collaborative learners to really grasp and process what they are learning. This is why you should ask admissions departments about the different requirements built into an online program to see if there are modules and platforms that you can use.

Other Factors to Consider

If you can transition between learning from text, graphics and video lessons, the learning style might not be the issue. It’s still important to consider how you can balance your work, life and school assignments when you are taking a full load. Here are some other factors to consider as you make the choice:

  • Do you have a quiet space where you can complete lessons, take quizzes and do your assignments?
  • Are you able to maintain a calendar and manage your assignments without reminders from professors?
  • Is face-to-face engagement with students and professors important to you?
  • Is financial aide available for online learners?
  • Are the courses that you have to take for your degree available online?

Choosing the right degree program is important. If you take a program that does not work for you, it is a waste of your time and money. This is why it can help to look at online learning demos and curriculum requirements. Once you meet with an adviser, you should have the information that you need to decide if you want to go to an online college.

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