There is so much to consider when a non-traditional student is going back to college after a break.
Some questions he or she can ask are:
1. Can I afford college?
2. If I get a loan, how will I pay it back?
3. How will I go to school and still fulfill my family obligations?
4. Can I afford NOT to work while I am in school?
5. What kind of classes should I take, online or “regular” classes?
6. Are online classes WAY harder than regular classes?
Let's just pick one of these issues today - online vs. face-to-face classes.
I want to talk about choices here, and we will. But we must realize that sometimes in the real world, a student has a choice - and sometimes he or she does not.
REAL LIFE SOMETIMES SETS THE RULES.
Students must fit classes in a set schedule. Also, there may be pre-requisite classes that are only offered at a certain time OR online. And that's okay. You just have to work with what is available.
One thing is for sure - it can be hard figuring out just what classes you need to take, AND in what order.
GETTING HELP IS A GOOD IDEA
Getting a good college counselor to help with a schedule can really help. And knowing the professor’s reputation can also be helpful. That’s where a free service like profeval.com can be very handy.
WHICH KIND OF CLASS IS HARDER?
I think that taking online classes can be just as difficult as taking in-person classes; in fact, I think they take a lot more time and effort. Personally, being in a class with others helps me understand the concepts being taught in a college class. Also, I feel like I can absorb things easier when the teacher explains it, and I take notes, which I can study later.
If you are a self-started, and very responsible, chances are that you can handle an online class. You must be organized. You must check due dates often for yourself and keep a good calendar.
WHAT ABOUT A JOB SCHEDULE?
There is not always a choice on which type of class to take, especially for the non-traditional student, who must often balance family and job responsibilities with school, and only have some times to work with for their class schedules.
Online classes and assignments can be taken or done at any time, as long as deadlines are met. I think that’s one very powerful reason they are becoming more and more popular.
DO PEOPLE (or EMPLOYERS) RESPECT ONLINE CREDENTIALS?
Are online classes respected as much as face-to-face classes? Maybe not always, but I think as more time goes by, this will be less and less of a problem. I think that the school that offers the class makes a difference, though, so if you are attending a respected school online or in person, that can make a difference in the quality of your education.
MISSING AN ONLINE CLASS
If you have ever taken an online class, you know that if the class is required to all log in at the same time and respond to the teacher, whoever is absent is really missed, and even missing one online class can really get a person behind on his or her work. So you really can not miss an online class. Period.
COMBINATION ONLINE AND IN-PERSON CLASSES
Some online classes require you to meet the professor and touch base once or more. I think this can be a good idea if the people in the class are near enough to the school to do it.
THE PLUSES OF FACE-TO-FACE CLASSES
Some people learn better in person with a traditional class. That’s the way I learn best, but others learn just as well by themselves. Personally, if I have a choice, I choose face-to-face classes, because I learn better in a group.
I feel that other points of view are easier to get in a face-to-face class. Also, I feel that I can get to know the teacher and the other students better face to face. Study groups are easier to form there, too.
SO WHICH IS BETTER?
Whichever YOU are taking and like. And the trend is towards more online classes, to make it easier for students to get the education they need. So online classes are here to stay, and are a growing trend. As students and teachers get more used to them, I think they will get even better.
I think the online vs. in face-to-face classes choice is mainly personal, and sometimes there isn't a choice due to schedule conflict.
For me, face-to-face is just plain better, but I have had some great online classes, too. I think it’s great to have both kinds of classes. It wasn’t available when I first went to college.
So... non-traditional students have a great choice now. The online classes are opening up and many more courses are offered that way, making it possible for more non-traditional students to take the classes they need.
And that is always good.
Sources for this article:
Slashdot – Online vs. Traditional degree?
Students flocking to online study...from Seattle Pi.com
Teachers reflect on how they can get to know students online
Are Online Classes Better? My Personal Experience by Kathryn Vercillo