Is distance learning right for you?

In today`s high tech society, distance learning is becoming an increasingly popular choice for students wishing to earn a college degree. Distance learning simply means that you attend class outside of a traditional classroom setting, typically through online courses or telecourses. Numerous accredited educational institutions offer distance learning courses and degree programs. Although these programs offer several advantages, you need to make sure that distance learning is the right choice for you. Successful distance learners share a few common characteristics.

Distance learners are independent people who learn best through reading and research. They do just as well, if not better, without instructors looking over their shoulders. Although some students need professors to keep them focused and motivated, distance learners are quite capable of motivating themselves. They are able to set and meet their own deadlines and goals.

Successful distance learning students are self-disciplined and organized. Although your instructor will assign homework and set deadlines, you will have to manage your time wisely by setting an effective schedule and sticking to it. If you tend to procrastinate until the very last minute, then distance learning probably isn`t the right educational path for you.

Do you have excellent reading and writing skills? Most distance education courses require you to master the course material only through written text. You have to be able to understand and follow written directions because you won`t have any face-to-face meetings with your instructors. You also might be required to communicate with your fellow students on a classroom forum or a discussion board. In addition, a majority of the distance learning assignments are in the form of written essays.

Successful distance learners have fantastic focusing abilities. You must be able to ignore ringing cell phones, friends dropping by and your favorite television shows and stay focused on your schoolwork. If you can easily filter out constant distractions, you have a great chance of succeeding in a distance learning setting.

Before enrolling in a distance education program, seriously consider whether you have the time to devote to your studies. Although there is a common misconception that distance learning courses are easier than traditional college courses, this is simply not true. You will need to spend at least as much time on your coursework as you would if you were attending a traditional class. A good rule of thumb is that you should devote 10 to 15 hours every week for each 3-credit course you are taking. If your schedule can`t handle this time commitment, you should reconsider distance education.

You must have at least basic computer skills to succeed at distance learning. You should be capable of emailing your instructor, browsing the internet, logging into your class`s website, searching online library databases and possibly downloading required software. Since most assignments will be in written form, you also need to be comfortable using a word processing program.

Are you okay with having limited social interaction with your instructor and fellow classmates? You will probably interact with them only through emails, forum postings or discussion boards. Although you might work in online study groups or on virtual teams, you still won`t have the same level of camaraderie that you would get if attending class in a traditional setting. Some students learn best by interacting with their instructors face-to-face and conversing with other students in group discussions. Be sure that you recognize your own personal needs before you spend a lot of time and money on a distance learning course that just doesn`t suit your personality.

If you possess the traits listed above and are thinking of enrolling in distance learning courses, you need to find a program that`s right for you. Reputable websites such as college.com allow you to research the various distance learning degree programs and find courses that pique your interest.

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