Much of the time, distance learning programs like to boast about the cost and time savings involved in pursuing an online education. After all, by eliminating travel expenses, matriculation fees for students attending school on campus and an assortment of costs involved in maintaining classrooms and traditional educational enviroments, both the student and the educational facility can realistically expect to enjoy a significant amount of savings over traditional school expenses. Distance learning students like to brag about the freedom they have to pursue their education on their own terms according to their own time schedules. There is much focus on savings when the subject of distance learning comes up.
In spite of the obvious advantages to distance learning programs, it is important to take a look at the actual costs that are involved before diving head first into this new and attractive educational delivery system. Beyond simply the obvious, inescapable cost of tuition and books, a student about to embark on the path of distance learning should consider a few additional costs:
1) Distance learning, by its very nature, is technology driven. Access to up to date computer equipment, ideally with high-speed internet access, is crucial to success in this environment. If you don’t already possess the necessary hardware and software to keep up with your coursework, how do you expect to keep up? Can you really depend on the local public library to meet your needs in terms of hours of operation and available equipment? Will your employer frown on your use of company equipment (even if it is during your lunch hour or after work) to pursue your education?
2) Since you won’t be spending any time in a traditional classroom, you will need to establish a place where you can remove yourself from the distractions of the world around you. If you must, consider converting a spare bedroom into office space or cordon off a section of a room that puts you off limits to those people and responsbilities around you that are clamoring for your attention. A proper physical environment will contribute to your overall success, but you may expect to invest a few dollars in securing a comfortable chair and a sturdy desk to support your efforts.
3) While distance learning can save you time by working around your schedule and life responsbilities, you can’t overlook the fact that there are time sacrifices you must be willing to make. You will still have to remove yourself from your everyday life at some point in time to login to class lectures, prepare homework assignments and take exams. Time spent on your coursework will always result in time taken away from something else.
While distance learning can bring you the benefits of continuing education while maintaining the stucture and schedule of your regular life, it is still an educational process. There are always going to be costs and sacrifices to be made along the way. In the end, if you can achieve your goals, it will have been worth it.