Is Online Learning Right for You?
Have you considered earning your bachelor's or advanced degree but don't think it is possible because of professional or family obligations? Have you been passed over for promotions at work because you lack a degree? Is commuting to a campus simply not an option for you?
If so, online learning may be the answer.
Online learning uses technology and innovative curricula to create a virtual campus that is accessible whenever and wherever it is convenient for the learner. Instructors conduct courses and initiate discussion while learners complete assignments, pose questions and engage in dialogue online -- just by logging on to their personal computer.
"The format of online learning takes a couple of weeks to get used to, but after that, it's easy to work into your schedule," says David Mattingly, a master's candidate in the School of Business at Capella University, an accredited online university. "I've had good interactions with other students and the professors here at Capella. The courses are tough, but there are many avenues of assistance available if needed. Overall, it's been a great experience."
Online learning is the perfect solution for many people, and the number of learners enrolled in such programs is projected nationally to reach 2.2 million this year. This growing number of online learners is due in large part to the ability of online education programs to allow adults with full-time jobs and family responsibilities to earn their degree without sacrificing other areas of their lives.
A case in point is Marcella Casey-Cooper, who lives and works on a military base. Casey-Cooper, who is pursuing her Ph.D. in education through Capella, balances work and raising her two children by completing her coursework during breaks at her job or at night after her children have gone to bed. "The flexibility of learning from wherever you are is perfect for me," says Casey-Cooper. "It offers a great link to the real world."
While online learning offers flexibility and convenience, it is not for everyone. Many students thrive in the online environment, but others are more suited to the structure of a classroom. If you are thinking about earning your degree online, the questions below can help you determine if your learning style and your lifestyle make you a good candidate.
1. Do you always know your schedule or do work commitments require you to travel around the country on a moment's notice?
If you spend a good amount of time away from home, online learning may be a better option than traditional campus programs.
2. Are you willing and able to make regular commutes to campus?
If not, consider online learning.
3. Can you perform basic functions such as managing e-mail and writing on a computer?
While most online learning programs require only rudimentary computer skills, learners do need a basic comfort level with computers.
4. Are you self-motivated? Can you maintain good study habits without direct oversight from professors?
People who rely on others for their motivation are probably not good candidates for an online learning program.
5. Are you comfortable doing a good deal of reading?
Online learning programs require students to read many of the materials traditional universities present in a lecture format. Success in online learning requires a student be ready to do a lot of reading.
6. Do you want or require a specialized program or advanced degree?
Many local onsite schools offer only limited, general programs for adult learning or may not offer advanced degrees in your area. Going online may provide you with access to a more specialized or advanced program that better suits your needs and interests. A large online university such as Capella offers bachelor's, master's and doctorate degrees, as well as more than 80 degree programs and specializations.
"Education and learning must be a continuous, lifelong process in our constantly changing world," says Michael Offerman, president of Capella University. "We place special emphasis on helping our learners develop self-managed learning skills that will ultimately help them in their chosen profession. For those who have made a commitment to investing time and energy to reach their educational goals, online learning can be a wonderful option."
For a more complete appraisal of your online learning aptitude, you can complete the 2-Minute Advisor assessment tool on Capella University's Web site, www.capella.edu/ara. The site also provides information on Capella's degree programs. Information can also be obtained by calling 1-888-CAPELLA (227-3552) ext. 6032.
Courtesy of ARA Content