Whether it is your first time studying at a higher education level or you’re looking to add another qualification to your resume, more and more, the choice between online learning and onsite learning is a valid and real decision facing prospective students. Both options have their pros, and these should be explored while making the decision about which course to apply for.
Distance learning can open the world to you. For example, if you were looking at earning a doctorate in educational leadership online, there are plenty of courses that will allow you to do this from around the world. Not all qualifications are transferrable between countries or, in some cases, even states. Therefore, if you know that you intend to relocate somewhere, your locally earned qualification will not be accepted; by gaining that qualification from the country you are emigrating to, you will be able to start working in your new career upon arrival.
Even if you aren’t on the other side of the world, choosing to study online can allow you to study courses at schools that are too far away to commute to comfortably, should moving closer not be an option. Because let’s face it, not every local community college will have every subject on its list of courses, and not every student has the option of moving away. Therefore, there is no need to compromise on the qualification you chose to gain by studying online.
People from all manner of lifestyles chose to undertake post-secondary education, whether it be a recent high school graduate with big dreams, a stay-at-home mother looking to get back into the workforce, or a busy professional wishing to step up the career ladder or expand their business. For those whose commitments are less flexible, being able to study from home is an excellent (or maybe even the only) option. Childcare is expensive, so being able to learn when the children sleep or at school is ideal for a person with children. The same goes for a person whose financial commitments or established career means taking time out from earning is not feasible – it gives the option to work around required working hours.
A more recent and heart-breaking reason for choosing to undertake online learning instead of on-campus learning is the covid-19 pandemic. As the world tries to bring the disease under control and return to usual, recurrent outbreaks and new variants mean that there is still an ongoing disruption to learning at all levels. Committing to an online delivered course will allow your studies to continue uninterrupted should a surge in numbers require local schools to close physical campuses. Even where blended learning is being used, any change in routine will disrupt education and cause potential setbacks.
On-site At Campus Learning
Of course, there are many benefits to attending classes in person – the main reason is that some courses are not possible to undertake via online learning. A chemistry class requires students to be in a laboratory mixing chemicals, and a student surgeon can’t practice surgery techniques from their living room. In these instances, you will have the convenience of access to all the equipment and materials that are needed to undertake your studies.
Having classes in a central location with your peers also in attendance can stop your learning journey from being a lonely and isolating experience. Finding the motivation to apply yourself to your studies with the amount of time really needed to learn the subject and complete your work thoroughly can be hard going when you are on your own. By attending classes, tutorials, and study groups, you will get that psychological boost of knowing that you’re not in this alone, being able to bounce ideas off other people, and get that immediate feedback that is often missing in online communications.
Other aspects of social life that you can benefit from by attending a physical campus are the extra-curricular activities. Whether it is a society or a sports or language club that you are interested in joining, all schools have a range of extracurriculars on offer. Having something outside of study helps teach an excellent work-life balance that is important at any stage of life as it promotes good mental health.
Attending classes allows students to learn critical thinking skills and interpersonal skills, which are equally important in life beyond the classroom. In a choice of two recent graduates with equivalent experience and qualifications, it will be the candidate who puts themselves across better who will be offered the job, not the candidate who is not able to hold a halfway coherent conversation. By practicing these skills while still in an educational setting, students are going to be on a better footing when they are taking the following steps into the world beyond academia.
Working from home in any capacity can be very distracting, especially if you don’t have a dedicated work/study space that is away from the rest of the house. By attending school in person, your learning spaces are dedicated to only that. There will be no one wandering through to load the dishwasher, or the neighbor’s dog barking outside your window, so you will be able to solely focus on what your lecturer is saying or that practical assignment in front of you.
For younger students, going away to college is often their first experience of living away from home. Staying in a college dorm room is a supportive and safe way to learn independent living skills with your peers. Rather than trying to suddenly run and maintain a whole household and bring in an income as would happen if you abruptly moved from home to your own place, you learn these skills on a smaller, more manageable scale. The skills you learn while studying are then transferable to the job market. You also learn about the basics of running a household (doing laundry, keeping your room and study space tidy), which are also lifelong skills that everyone should have.