Is Distance Learning Right For You?

Distance learning holds an incredible amount of promise: learning on your own time, from your own home, at your own pace, even while holding down a full-time job... could it really be that easy? There's no doubt that it's convenient, but you might want to hold on a second before calling it "easy." In fact, most distance learning students will probably tell you that taking a course online is more demanding than taking one in person.

While online education gives you incredible freedom, you'll need to remember that with freedom comes responsibility. How do you manage your study time when you no longer have regular class meetings? How do you keep on top of your work when you're surrounded by distractions at home? And what happens when you get stuck with a problem or question and there isn't a teacher or tutor within fifty miles? The answers boil down to this: it all depends on how motivated and disciplined you are.

How to Be Successful

In order to be a successful student online, you'll need to budget your time wisely. In a traditional classroom, you have weekly or daily meetings where you can check your progress. But online courses aren't nearly as restrictive or, often, as structured. You may still get a weekly assignment, but without regular class meetings, you'll have to create your own schedule -- one that involves planning around your existing workload (either at home or at work, if you have a job).

The most important skill you'll need to succeed is the ability to communicate effectively through writing; most of your teacher and classmate interaction will be handled via email, bulletin board and newsgroup postings, or chat sessions. It's also important that you take the initiative and speak up (via email) and ask for help when you need it. Your teacher will only know if you're having trouble if you tell him/her, so it's vital that you get in touch as soon as you feel yourself floundering. Don't let yourself slip through the cracks! And, of course, you'll need reliable access to a computer and a modem in order to devote yourself to your online coursework.

Earning your degree online can be incredibly rewarding -- offering a convenience that is unheard of in a "real-world" classroom. But it's also a challenge. Focus on your goals, stay dedicated to your studies, manage your time wisely, and speak up when you need help -- you'll achieve your goals for sure!

Find the distance learning program that's right for you. Browse our lists of schools offering bachelors, masters, and even MBA degrees online today!