Whether you know it or not, you have spent your whole life learning. You just may not have a fancy printed certificate hanging on your wall to show for it. Is now the time to make that step to get your degree? Taking that step in the past was a scary, and for many, impossible, feat. You don’t have the time to attend classes at night, you cannot afford the tuition and travel expenses, or maybe you are uncomfortable in a classroom setting. With the advent of the internet, learning online may be the key to achieving your goals and overcoming those challenges.
For many adults, continuing, or even finishing, their education seems like an impossible task. The reasons will be as varied as the individuals. Some may include:
- There is just not enough time in the day to deal with the challenges at home and work, and then attend classes at night, or on weekends.
- For many it may be a fear associated with failing in the classroom. I think we can all dig bad memories out of the abyss of our mind about classroom experiences that may still give us nightmares.
- For some it may just be impossible to physically to get to a school. You may live in the backwoods of Alaska, or on some remote island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, where there is not a school available.
- The list could go on for ever…
This does not have to be the case anymore.
With the advent of the internet, a new realm of possibility has been opened for adult education. You can now sit in the comfort of your home and continue that education that was interrupted when the trials of life got in the way. Proximity to a college is no longer a barrier to obtaining a college education. Time and distance should no longer be issues in the never ending quest to improve ourselves.
However, in order to take advantage of this opportunity, you need to decide if this really is the right thing for you to do. Answers to the following five questions will help you make that decision that could propel you into the world of the electronic university:
- What do you hope to accomplish?
- You must have a specific goal in mind. It does not necessarily have to be to achieve a degree however. You may be doing it simply for the joy of learning something new. But the idea is to have a specific purpose. e.g. “I want to learn to program in Java?”, “I want to learn about the industrial revolution”, “I want to learn about_____ (you fill in the blanks)”.
- Are you a self starter?
- Making the commitment to an online learning program is a major step in your life. If your usual way of doing things is to wait until someone gives you a specific assignment and then fulfilling it to the satisfaction of the person who gave it to you, then an online learning environment may not be the thing for you. You will need to allocate time and push yourself beyond what you may be used to.
- Are you organized?
- This may seem like an odd requirement, but being organized is a necessity. You cannot be continually be searching for where you placed that assignment you just printed out last week, or where that article is that your instructor requested you to read, etc… You must develop a system for organizing your time, assignments, and reading material.
- Are you committed to achieving your goals?
- If this is just a whim, forget it. If you are not committed to achieving your goals you will not succeed. You must develop a firm commitment to seeing this through to the end. Life may unexpectedly throw you some curves that will delay your completion; but you must keep your ultimate goal in sight.
- Do you have the support of those closest to you?
- Many people think that ‘attending’ an online class is easier than a traditional classroom environment. This is not the case. You may be able to sit at home in your pajamas and ‘go’ to class, but you will also have with it the attendant interruptions and distractions. If you are in a relationship, or have children at home, they must know when it is time to leave you alone and when you need their support. There will be many times when you have to make choices between attending events involving family members, or sitting down at the computer and doing the research for the paper you have due next weekend. Not only do you need to be committed to the goals you have set, but so do those closest to you.
On online education may or may not be the right thing for you, only you can decide that. The questions listed above will hopefully help you in making that decision.
In the next installment of this series we will look at the factors you need to consider once you have made your decision.