Going back to school is a big commitment, especially if it has been a long time since you had a formal education or if you’re trying to balance your academic growth with work or family obligations. After weighing the pros and cons of getting an online college degree, you’re probably wondering if online learning is right for you. If you’re still unsure if online college is the right choice for you, developing a plan and making as smooth a transition into online college as possible can help you succeed.
Have a Plan
One of the biggest problems students have with online learning is the sense of isolation, according to The New York Times. The freedom and flexibility to complete assignments on your own schedule is one of the benefits of online college, but combined with a lack of in-person interaction with professors and fellow students, it can result in students procrastinating and falling behind. Having a plan can help you avoid this pitfall. Schedule times for yourself to complete your coursework and stick to them as closely as you would stick to course times for a traditional course schedule. Set up a productive work environment so you don’t find yourself writing an essay during television commercial breaks or fall asleep reading textbooks.
You might also find peace of mind by having a backup plan regarding what you will do if you decide that online college isn’t the right choice for you, after all. If you start your online education as a full-time student but find that the workload is too much, develop a plan for how you would proceed as a part-time student. If you don’t like the online learning experience, know who to contact to find out if you can transfer to the school’s brick-and-mortar campus for traditional courses. If you chose an online-only degree program, make sure that your program is accredited so that you will have more options for transferring the credits you have earned to another institution, if you decide to do so.
Ease Into Online Learning
Another way to address your concerns about earning a college degree online is by transitioning to an online education gradually. If you are already taking traditional classes and are worried about succeeding in an online course, find out if your school offers any hybrid class that could give you an idea of how a fully-online class would operate. You can also enroll in a free, non-credit Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) in any subject that interests you. Though it won’t count toward any degree, you can use this experience as an experiment to see whether you would enjoy online learning.
It’s only natural to be nervous about an experience as new as beginning to take online college courses, but you have a lot to gain. By developing a plan for pursuing your education and exposing yourself to online courses, you are setting yourself up for success.