Many of us are looking at changing our careers in 2023 or returning to school to obtain the qualifications and knowledge we need to get a new role. If you’re interested in studying this coming year, you may consider doing so online or perhaps in person at a campus.
Different options work for different people, depending on their circumstances, budgets, family and work lives, and more. Here’s how to tell whether you should opt for online studies.
Know Your Goals for Your Studies
Start by ensuring you’re clear on your goals for your studies. You need to know what you want to get out of them so you can tell whether an online program will help you make that happen. While, of course, you want to complete training so you have that to your name, there are likely to be other factors at play.
For example, you may want to spend less on your education and cut costs wherever possible, in which case an online option can be helpful. When you study online, you can keep living at home or not have to move to another place to go to a campus. You also don’t need to outlay money on travel to and from on-site classes, parking, or related fees.
On the other hand, perhaps one of your big goals with your study is to meet many new people, take advantage of extracurricular opportunities, and enjoy campus life. If so, eLearning won’t be your best bet; instead, you’ll likely want to investigate on-campus options. The same goes for using expensive equipment, such as that found in a science lab or technology department.
However, online learning may be the perfect fit for you if you have a full-time job you need to plan your studies around or if you have young children, elderly parents, or other family-based commitments to consider. In these cases, eLearning can be the best option since it allows you to schedule your study time at any time of the day or night, depending on what suits you.
Think About How Much Flexibility You Want
Many people choose to learn digitally due to the flexibility it offers. If you’re considering both on-campus and eLearning options, think about how much flexibility you want. For example, if you’re keen to study specific topics only available with certain educational institutions, you may need to opt for online lessons to access these classes.
If you have particular professors or other teachers you want to learn from that aren’t available in your local area, eLearning is also the best way to access these people. The flexibility of choosing classes according to your preferences can make online study a no-brainer. Also, if you want to get through a course quicker than usual or take more time, online learning can be the right choice because it’s often more flexible regarding timeframes.
Remote learning is also a plus if you need the flexibility of being able to study at the times when you feel most able to concentrate. This may particularly be the case for those who are neurodivergent or have learning difficulties, but it can apply to anyone. When you study online, you can re-read details or listen to tutorials and talks, etc., over and over again as much as you need to.
This type of learning is also brilliant for people who find it hard to concentrate on campus when surrounded by other people who may be distracting with their talking, tapping of pens, shuffling papers, etc.
Research Providers and Course Options
When determining whether or not to opt for online studies, you of course need to research and evaluate the eLearning providers and the various courses on offer. Ensure you’ll be able to gain access to an accredited program so you don’t end up completing studies that can’t help you as expected. Sometimes there are options online that seem promising but aren’t accredited or seen as top-class by employers as you need.
Look into the admissions processes, too. You may find that getting into an excellent human services degree online, for instance, is easier than accessing your local one where you’d study on-campus. At other times, though, eLearning offerings may be more competitive because you have people from across the globe trying to get into the classes. Always research what’s relevant for your study area(s) and which learning institutions come out on top.
If you need access to scholarships or other types of financial aid to complete your studies, you should research the online providers on your shortlist and see what they have available and if you might be eligible for support before formally enrolling.
Consider all of these factors when deciding if online study is right for you. Take your time and consider trialing some eLearning options to see how you go.