Distance learning offers the modern student as many advantages as it does challenges. Distance learning offers freedom, flexibility, a wide range of choice, and an affordable way to obtain a degree. At the same time, it requires focus and discipline; it lacks personal interaction; it requires the maintenance and upkeep of technology; and it is still viewed by many employers and graduate programs with a bit of skepticism. Given this, it is important to weigh up the pros and cons of distance learning before deciding if it is right for you.
Pro for Distance Learning: You have freedom in your studies.
If you take a course on line or by correspondence, the basic outline of the course and the mandatory assignments will be laid out for you. Working from these basics, you have the freedom to take your studies as far as you want, to study where you want, wearing what you want, when you want. Some courses will have planned discussion chat sessions or on campus sessions, but for the majority of time otherwise you will have freedom.
Pro for Distance Learning: You have flexibility in your education.
Distance learning offers the type of flexibility that traditional classroom education does not. You are able to fit your studies around your job, your children, and your other commitments. You are often able to space your credits and your courses to finish your degree in as much, or as little, time as you require.
Pro for Distance Learning: You have a wide range of choice.
Perhaps your local college specializes in the arts, or the sciences, but your passions run across many disciplinary lines. Perhaps the degree you want to do isn’t offered locally. Distance learning can help you to study what you want to study without having to travel far afield to a college that offers the course. Instead, practically any discipline can be taught to you in the comfort of your own home.
Pro for Distance Learning: You can afford to do a distance learning degree.
With the annual costs for higher education rising steadily, more and more students are going heavily into debt to finance their education. By comparison, distance learning courses are far more affordable. Because you can spread your degree over time, you can space classes so that you can afford to pay the full cost for each up front. Also, because you are studying from home, you will not be burdened by travel costs, room and board costs, or green fees for maintaining the college’s grounds. You will still need to purchase text books, but the savings will be significant.
Con against Distance Learning: You need to be focused and disciplined to succeed.
Focus and discipline are not bad habits to develop. However, you will need to be able to muster these skills for yourself without the presence of your professors and peers. Especially if this is the first time that you are working independently, you may find it hard when you are unable to ask someone for guidance. If you cannot focus and discipline yourself, you will fall behind.
Con against Distance Learning: You will not have regular personal interaction with teachers and students.
Most distance learning courses do provide interactive elements, such as discussion boards and chat rooms. However, this is not the same as seeing your classmates and professors on a weekly basis. It can be harder to bond, and you will have difficulty in setting up study groups. For some students personal interaction is key, and you will not have this on a distance learning course.
Con against Distance Learning: You will need to maintain and upkeep technology in order to participate.
Your computer takes on a whole new level of importance when you are on a distance learning course. The integrity of your operating system and your Internet connection are key. If your computer malfunctions or otherwise goes on the fritz, the onus will be on you to get it fixed in a timely fashion so that you don’t fall behind. Without taking due care of this technology, you will fall behind and may not be able to complete the course.
Con against Distance Learning: Your degree won’t always be taken seriously at first.
While this trend is changing as more students choose distance learning, there are still many employers and graduate programs that don’t regard a distance learning qualification as highly as a traditional college degree. Your distance learning institution may not be a well known school. You will need to be prepared to convince others that the education you have received is just as good as the education received by someone with a traditional college degree.
Distance learning is a fantastic opportunity for modern students. Its unparalleled freedom, flexibility, range of choice and affordability are all contributing to its rise in popularity. However, any prospective student needs to be aware of the discipline, self direction, and technology necessary to succeed. Prospective students also need to consider if they are willing to explain and defend their education to future employers. To ensure your success, make sure to consider carefully whether or not distance education is the right choice for you.