Busy people need an alternative to education enhancement.
I have attended college in two ways, in person and online. Both experiences have proven to be beneficial and engaging and the material is the same: difficult and calculated for understanding and application.
A traditional college has people you can connect with, face to face, instructors to meet with to go over things simultaneously, and get real time assistance with administrative or financial issues. An online college provides all these benefits as well, but in a different forum.
Online colleges are designed to assist those who cannot attend a traditional college because of prior commitments such as working, family, or transportation or availability issues. Online colleges target many different student markets, one of which is the busy working mother (me). My opportunity came to me when I became a new mother and needed something for myself while also enhancing my educational career to gear up to go back to work and help support my family.
Online Colleges Accommodate Your Schedule
Not everyone can attend class during the day. Many of us work and have families to take care of and other responsibilities that prevent of us from sitting down in a traditional classroom. It is difficult these days to expand your education in the same manner we grew up with as children. The alternative is online education and some universities do provide campuses for students to attend if it is needed.
An online college can provide you with a program that suits your needs and is designed to allow you to turn in assignments at any time of the day (within the due date), speak to students and instructors either in a forum or personally (phone calls, Skype exchanges, etc.), and offer texts and materials to assist in the classroom study (eBooks and online peer reviewed articles and journals). This capability is offered because of the different time zones many students live in around the country and even in other continents. You are allowed to participate as your schedule allows you to and as often as you can.
Online Colleges Require Self-Motivation
Committing yourself to an online college can be a bit daunting in the beginning. Reminding yourself that you need to participate, turn in assignments, or read the available materials can require a whole new form of focus and energy. Motivating yourself is something that you will need to do on a daily basis if you wish to be successful in attending an online college. There are no teachers to reprimand you, no classmates to come over and help you with a study sessions, and no letters in the mail saying you are not attending class as often as you should. It is your responsibility to apply yourself and take charge of your education.
Here are a few tips to stay motivated:
Remind yourself why you are doing this
Remember that you are paying good money for this experience
Put up pictures of the rewards you will achieve once you get your degree
Tell everyone you are going to school so they can cheer you on
Tell your employer so they can help hold you accountable
Talk with your advisor if you need a pick me up
If you quit motivating yourself, you’ll quit school, and I don’t know about you, but my mother told me to never quit learning. So I don’t…because she said so.
Online Colleges Require Active Participation
Because there is no set time frame to “check-in” or “attend” class, you may need to harness your energy and manage your time and priorities a little differently. Traditional colleges require your physical appearance as part of your participation criteria so you are not dropped from the class, even though you are paying for it in some manner. Online colleges require that you “participate” by commenting in forums, answer discussion questions and submit assignments before their due date.
These participation requirements keep you motivated to focus on your studies on a regular basis and provide insight to others who may need your perspective. For example, the college I attend requires that I participate by commenting in the discussions at least 3 times a week, providing encouraging and academically sound material that furthers a discussion. I cannot simply write, “I agree with your answer.” I must give examples as to why I agree, cite text references, and/or provide links to educational journals that support my answer or data. I am required to participate at a higher learning level than I have done in years past, and it is engaging and though provoking to do so with so many different individuals.
If you have a requirement to participate in your online class, I recommend adding to your discussions at least 3 times a day, 4-5 times a week. Not all your answers will be gems and not all instructors are as critical as others.
Online Colleges Only Give you One to Two Classes at a Time
Remember when you had 6 different classes in middle school and high school? Remember when you participated in sports and 4 extracurricular activities, and you just so happened to be the President of all of them? Okay, so I was President of 3 and I didn’t have a sport to claim my own, but I had a full course load, with many of them honors or advanced classes. I was mind attacked with different subjects at different learning levels and I’m surprised I got through it all.
An online college only allows one or two classes at any one time. This is due to a few factors:
The target market for students are busy individuals who work full time or have other responsibilities
The material is college level and requires advanced critical thinking skills
A 12 credit course load would exponentially increase dropout rates and student dissatisfaction
The material is studied within a 4-6 week time frame
Participation levels are high and involve significant research, time, and effort
Online colleges do not want to overload the student with too many courses, because of the already demanding schedule and priorities they have. My particular college of choice has encouraged me to take my time, take breaks if necessary, and to concentrate on one class at a time. They want me to succeed and a class at a time is how I will.
My Educational Choice
I know online colleges are not popular with a lot of people, but it is a means to an end. This is an opportunity that suits me because I am busy, I work, I have kids, I have animals, I have a husband, I have family members who need me, and I have plenty of responsibilities and activities that I am engaged in. A traditional college setting is not for me at this point in my life. I am learning, and I am applying what I have learned in my current business setting and hope to continue to do so in an effort to achieve my own personal entrepreneurial goals. An online college is better for busy people, and I plan on staying busy for a very long time.