Is online education right for me?

Online education can open up a whole new world of possibility to prospective students who have been putting off attending an on-campus program—or those who don’t have a school nearby that offers their chosen career training program. Continuing your education is still a big commitment, though, whether you’ll be sitting in a classroom or logging in from your living room. The Imagine America Foundation has some great hints for helping you decide whether an online career training program is right for you!

Flexible scheduling

One of the biggest benefits of pursuing your education online is flexible scheduling. Particularly if you’re an adult learner with other obligations—a job, even part-time, can quickly limit the availability on your calendar, and spouses, children, pets, hobbies, and other activities can also make committing to classes and lectures on-campus feel impossible. When you enroll in an online program, you can listen to a lecture first thing in the morning before you’ve even had your first coffee, complete a homework assignment on your lunch break at work, or review the textbook after the kids have been tucked in at night.

Learn at your own pace

Going hand-in-hand with that flexible schedule is the opportunity to work ahead or review something an extra time: you can learn at your own pace, not at the direction of a syllabus that’s been carved in stone. Maybe some of your introductory courses feel like a piece of cake and you can skim the materials confident in how you’ll do on the exam, but your next course is an uphill struggle and you find yourself needing to re-review the information several times before it sinks in. With online courses, you can spend as much or as little time as you need to master the material—regardless of where your classmates are at in the syllabus.

But procrastinators, beware! Learning at your own pace can also mean you have less accountability: If you don’t have regular classes to attend where you’d have to be prepared to discuss the assignment face-to-face, it may feel easier to put the work off and you may risk falling behind. Make sure you’re ready to stay committed to a general study plan so your training stays on track!

Online communication

It can be tricky when you lose the in-person interaction, which can be helpful when discussing complex topics or when you’re having a hard time understanding the course materials on your own. Being an online student means being extra diligent in communicating clearly, concisely, and often to develop those relationships with your peers and teachers and to get the most out of your career training program.

But communicating with your instructor and your classmates over the internet also means you can send messages and questions any time, day or night. It can also be quite handy to have records of those conversations: in a classroom setting, you’re likely to be responsible for catching and recording by hand helpful information or extra additions that the instructor mentions off the cuff. Online, lectures and course materials are saved in full for you and your one-on-one conversations or discussion board chats are likely to be recorded and saved through the course platform, possibly even in a conveniently searchable format—allowing you to go back and reference them later on.

Ready to find the online career training program that’s right for you? Check out this post about what to look for when choosing a program! IAF has a directory of great online schools  and can help you find the best fit for your education and career goals. We even offer scholarship programs that allow high school seniors, current and honorably discharged military personnel, and adult learners to receive a $1,000 discount on their tuition at partnership institutions. We can’t wait to help you get started!