7 Reasons Why Working Adults Should Not Fear Taking College Classes Online
Published on September 8, 2014 by Staff Writer
If you’re a working adult, you might have more responsibilities—children, work schedule, other commitments—than the “traditional” college student.
And that means you may have looked into the possibility of taking college courses online—and the flexibility and freedom that comes with it.
It’s an increasingly popular route for college students in general—more than 6.7 million took at least one online class during the fall of 2011, up from about 6.1 million the year prior, according to U.S. News & World Report, citing a study from the Online Learning consortium.
If it’s been awhile since you were in school, you might have some reservations about getting back in the game as an online student.
Fear not! Here are seven reasons why working adults should not be afraid of taking college classes online.
1. It’s not as technical as it might seem
OK, so you will need a basic level of skill with the web as an online college student. But really, if you can check email and browse the internet, you’re probably ready to go.
You shouldn’t let a lack of technical knowledge be a hurdle in your quest to earn a degree. Most colleges have people in their online divisions who will help you if you run into difficulties, and the more you use the technology, the more comfortable you’ll be with it.
If you’re not a tech wiz, don’t worry—taking online courses doesn’t require you to know the ins and outs of every program. You just need a general understanding of how to use the web.
2. You will get personalized attention
Just because you’re taking classes remotely doesn’t mean you’ll be all alone.
Sure, you won’t see your instructors in person, but there are numerous ways to interact with them while you attend school online. You will be able to find support and have your questions answered, just as you would in a traditional classroom.
Among the ways in which you can connect with instructors include:
- Discussion boards
- Instant messaging
You can also access career services and tutors online at many colleges. And even if you never see your instructors face to face, they will still be there via electronic means.
3. You can take a mix of online and on-campus courses
Don’t feel like you’re limited to either online or on-campus learning.
Perhaps your schedule will allow you to be on campus, but not all the time. If so, you could consider enrolling in a “blended” program: a mix of online and on-campus classes that some colleges offer.
Some schools will help you tailor your educational experience—classroom learning for courses in which face-to-face interaction is more beneficial and online for others that don’t require as much in-person instruction.
These hybrid programs can give you the flexibility you need to pursue your degree.
4. You can “test drive” a class
Say you’re still on the fence about going to college online. Maybe you want to try out one class and see how it goes.
Colleges that offer single-subject courses online can help you find out if online schooling is right for you. By taking an online class for a “test drive,” you can see how it works, determine whether it fits your learning style and figure out if you like it.
Once you’ve dipped your toe in the water, you’ll have a better handle on the world of online college and be able to make a more informed decision about your education in the future.
5. You will still be able to connect with classmates
Just as you’re able to interact with your instructors, you can also connect with classmates while you take classes online.
Those same methods listed above (discussion boards, video chats, email, et. al.) are applicable here, and there’s nothing stopping you from coordinating with other students for study groups at a local coffee shop.
Students often develop friendships electronically, and you might find others who have the same schedule as you and are online at the same time.
It’s just like introducing yourself to the person across from you on the first day of class—you’ll just do it via the internet.
6. You don’t have to be online at a specific time
At many colleges, taking online classes doesn’t mean you “go to class” at regular times.
Often, you can log on at your convenience and work the lessons around your schedule. It’s probably the No. 1 benefit of online coursework.
You will have to get your assignments done (deadlines still apply) and likely need to spend a certain amount of time online per class to meet attendance requirements.
Which brings us to a few notes about the online student’s learning style. Because they’re not tied to a specific schedule, successful college students who take classes online often share similar traits, including:
- Good at time management
- Thrives on autonomy
- Does not procrastinate
- Communicates well via the written word
- Strong reading-comprehension skills
7. Your degree matters
You might be worried about how employers view your degree because you took classes online. Don’t be. Many schools do not denote on degrees that a student took courses online.
And consider this from Education Corner:
“In the past, employers may have not considered online degrees from career colleges in the same way as they viewed programs obtained through traditional colleges, but the quality of online programs continues to improve and offers the type of training and education available at a traditional college. Likewise, students completing online programs will develop, or further develop, technology skills highly sought after by many companies, and they may impress their employers by taking initiative to broaden their knowledge and acquire new skills.”
What you should be concerned with is your future, not whether you earned your degree online or in the classroom. A college degree can open doors to better career opportunities (and earnings).
Hopefully, some of your concerns about taking college classes online have been alleviated. Give it a shot!
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