Online schooling has been gaining popularity among both college-aged students, as well as high school students. It has become a great opportunity for working adults, parents, and younger students with behavioral issues. I have taken in seat university classes my entire college career, until now. I have to admit, in ways, it was not what I expected.
1. More studying
This is something I noticed right away. For what online course lack in seat time, they make up in required reading and homework.
2. Good-bye social life
This was hard for me to accept at first, and my grades reflected it. As a full-time online student, in addition to being a wife and holding a fulltime job, I do not have time to hang out with friends on the weekends anymore. Between in seat and online, I have found online schooling to be much more demanding.
3. Lack of relationships
Being an online student makes cultivating those ever-so-important connections with professors difficult. Most professors encourage you to email them with questions and for one-on-one conversations about your work- but how can you cultivate a relationship without feeling like you're flooding your professor's inbox? I combat this by sending my professors an email introducing myself and telling them how excited I am to start the course (or something along those lines). I have found this to be a great opener, and it makes a good, lasting impression.
In regards to cultivating student relationships, most online universities offer groups, often referred to as communities, for students to join and meet other students based on similar interest/major.
More than once I've caught myself thinking ‘one day late won't hurt….’ WRONG. Deadlines in online classes are concrete and staying on top of them is key to getting your degree. Last quarter I fell behind in a course and I struggled so much to get caught up that I have made sure that will never happen again. There is nothing fun about coming home and spending your evening reading instead of watching Sex and The City- but you gotta do what you gotta do.
5. Stay organized
When I started taking classes online, I did not go out and buy the school supplies I did when I was in-seat. In my head, an online school was more casual and I could use what I already had. If anything, I have needed to be more organized now than I ever did when I was in-seat. Get a planner, keep track of due dates and those term papers that creep up. A notebook for each course is always a good idea, and be sure to take notes when your reading.
6. The book is your teacher
Your professor is more of a guide- giving you a few activities to expand your thinking based off of the required reading and answering questions when needed. The textbook is your actual teacher. If this is something you know you're going to struggle with, I would rethink online courses.
7. Is it worth it?
Online college is one of the best things I have ever done for myself. In addition to earning my degree, I have learned a lot about myself. I have become more organized, self-disciplined, goal-oriented, and become a better student. It is flexible with my busy schedule, yet structured enough to hold me accountable.
Online school is not for everyone, I will be the first person to tell you that. If you are not self disciplined, or not a strong reader it will not be a easy road. Keep the focus, and find the fit that is best for YOU! It has taken three (yes, three) transfers to find what works for me, and I could not be happier with my online university.