Is an Education in Online Colleges for You?

is getting a degree or an education from online colleges a good option? Discover the pros and cons of online colleges here

If it’s time to go to college, you have a myriad of possibilities. You may be finishing your public school, in a homeschooling program or are an adult student. Knowing which place you belong in this diverse array of options is a daunting task. You can attend the community college in your area. If there is one near you, you could go to either a private or a public university or enrol in colleges on the internet.

In recent years, these colleges are increasingly popular for public school students, homeschooled students, and those who wish to return to school but do not have time to enter a classroom each day. College online has given them the ability to pursue their studies on their terms and their schedule. This can be the best part of taking an online college.

Is an Online College Education Right for You?

Since online education is technology based in the delivery and execution of the classwork, you need to ask yourself several questions when considering this path to higher education.

  • How are your time management skills?
  • How are your computer skills?
  • Is it easy for you to put your ideas in writing so that they are understandable?
  • Are you self-motivated?
  • Is the college ‘culture’ the reason that you want to go to college?
  • Do you have the time to commit to your classwork?
  • Will you commit the time that you need to your classwork?

Online education requires that you read your textbooks or perform online labs; discussions are conducted in both written and verbal form, using audio and video for some classes. Interacting with other students is still a part of the curriculum. However, it too is technology-based, and your interactions are via e-mail and chat sessions. Some classes require group exercise, which can be challenging via electronic medium.

Other considerations include your ability to gauge your level of progress without constant support. Depending on the school and its curricula, help may not be immediately forthcoming, so having enough confidence in your ability is a big plus in the online environment.

Time Management Skills

Online college courses can range from a scant five and a half weeks to eleven weeks in duration. It is necessary to produce two to four written assignments per week, and deadlines are strict. A missed deadline can mean a grade reduction.

Time management skills will be crucial to your success. For some, reading the material, researching and writing an essay will not be that difficult, but for others whose reading and technical skills are not as proficient, the same paper can take many hours. Unless you are willing to put in the time, you will not succeed in this endeavour, no matter your skill level.

Taking the time to read, study, and understand the material and giving yourself ample time to write your essays is the recipe for successful students in an online college. For those of you working and going to school simultaneously, special care will need to be taken with those closest to you, your family, and they need to understand that your school assignments are essential to you and need time set aside just for your studies.

Technical Skills

To put it into perspective, a typist that can produce 60 words per minute can effectually write 600 words in ten minutes. However, if someone performing the same work types at a rate of 25 words per minute, the same essay can take 24 minutes to complete the same assignment, which is just the typing portion of the work.

More than double the time. You can see that technical skills such as typing, a computer and its software, and time for research can affect your ability and timeliness of learning.

If you do not have these skills, before you begin your journey into the world of higher education, you need to get them because the professor is not going to wait for you to catch up. Having these skills, and honing them as you go, will serve you well in the online college environment.

Writing Skills

College course work is shared with the professor; you will have work shared with your classmates. You will require skills that enable you to convey your thoughts understandably. You may already have these skills, but if you don’t, spending weeks on end writing three and four essays and discussion ideas per week will hone your skills.

This is where word processing applications are such a big help. You still need to know how to construct a sentence, but the advent of word processors that can check your spelling and grammar is a great tool that will enable you to become a proficient writer over time if you are not already.


If you require the drive to get your education, you are motivated to work in the virtual environment of an online college. Mix it with self-motivation, discipline, time management, and technical skills will make you a winner.

Campus Culture

All colleges have a culture that has developed on their campuses over time. The culture at a commuter school is different from that of a campus where students board. They each have their identity, making them unique.

Online colleges do not provide the student experience, the entertainment and extracurricular activities provided on brick-and-mortar campuses. Still, they have come a long way over the years of developing areas of the school website where students can gather virtually and build relationships and networks.

It is not that online colleges do not provide a culture; they provide a different culture than what has been considered mainstream.

Not All Online Colleges are Created Equal

Just as a community, public and private colleges have different methods of instruction, so too do online colleges. The number of weeks that classes are held, the required number of hours for course requirements, and the method of teaching the class, vary from school to school.

Some offer online classes several times a week, while others have no direct interaction with the professor other than e-mail. Your level of personal motivation and involvement is a significant factor in your failure or success in an online college setting.

Research your Choice and Find Your Fit

If you already know the degree you want to pursue, the first order of business would be to find the school that has the best program in that area of study. Then research the school and decide if it is the right fit for you. Search schools with reviews from former students can be found quickly online and is an excellent place to start when deciding on the college that will best suit you and your interests.

Every year, U.S. News & World Report publishes a list of the  top online colleges . Here you can find the lists of the best online colleges and lists of the disciplines that they teach. Programs for Associate’s, Bachelor’s, Masters and Doctoral programs are available. Many who already have Bachelor’s degrees find that earning their Master’s degree online is the most effective way to realize their educational dreams.

Online College is not for Everyone .

Going to college on campus opens your world to a network of people that you relate with daily. The culture of the campus that you are on, and they all have different cultures, is intertwined with your education.

Many college recruiters will tell you that part of the education is living in the college culture. While that may be so, just as online college is not for everyone, going to college at a brick and mortar campus is not for everyone, either.

A personal level of discipline will be required in any higher educational environment; however, students on campus, who live there daily, will have access to a support network that is already in place and does not need to be curried.

Online college virtual campuses have support systems in place and have a virtual campus environment where students come together for discussions. Those who are not technologically well informed or have not spent time with online chat may have a hard time in a virtual environment.

Now What?

Take your time and research any online college you are interested in,  and then find out what you can about them  from the ones who know the best, the students, who can be found on review sites about online colleges.

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