Tag Archives | choosing

Choosing Between Traditional and Online Schooling

Image by Jazmin Quaynor, unsplash.com

Image by Jazmin Quaynor, unsplash.com

Whether you are finishing up high school, going back to school after a break, or looking into a master’s, choosing the right school for you is tough. It’s a difficult enough decision when there’s only location for your degree program to consider, but with online schooling becoming more and more common, you now have online choices to add to the mix. There are several things to consider when you are looking at schools, and deciding what kind of education experience you want is the first decision to make. What are the pros and cons to traditional and online schooling?

Traditional School

The familiar choice of a traditional brick and mortar school is one that most people end up making. There are plenty of upsides to physically attending school. Sitting in a classroom allows you to interact face to face with your professor and fellow classmates, as well as take advantage of study groups and office hours. Getting to know your professors and classmates also makes for great networking opportunities, which is known to be important for finding work after college. You get the benefits of using on-campus facilities like the library, recreation center, and career center (among others) which are awesome resources for students. Being on campus also gives you plenty of socializing opportunities like joining clubs and participating in campus events.

Of course, with the positives come negative aspects. Having to choose from and attend classes on campus makes your schedule pretty inflexible, which can be difficult if you need to work. With all of the expenses of attending school, it’s necessary for many people to be employed while going to school, and not all jobs are willing to work with school schedules. Another demerit for brick and mortar schools is location. If your local school doesn’t have the degree you want to pursue, then you have to consider either changing your choice of major or moving to another city or state. That adds the extra expense of living on your own, whether on or off campus. While some students intend to do that anyway, the option to stay at home is a comforting one as the cost of school and the cost of living continue to rise.

Online School

While there used to be a negative stigma associated with getting a degree online, these days, millions of students actually prefer online school. Online school is becoming available with several accredited and established Universities, and the online option is an extension of the same degrees offered on campus. This is incredibly convenient for people who work full time or have families and need their school life to work around their schedule, and not the other way around. Online school is also a great option for people with anxiety, or people who don’t care about the social aspects of campus life. Nothing is worse than having to go all the way to campus during homecoming week when you could care less about football. Many people worry about not getting as good of an education taking classes online, but as long as you follow these tips for maintaining focus as an online student, there’s no reason why you can’t get a full and successful education. Learning to focus and succeed in online classes can develop your self-sufficiency skills, which are important in the working world.

Negatives to online education are probably covered by the positives of on campus learning. You miss out on live interaction with classmates and the professor during class. You won’t have all of the networking opportunities you may have gotten by being on campus and participating in academic and social activities, as well as clubs. The lack of face-to-face interaction with professors can hinder students who aren’t quite college ready and need more direction. Unless you are a part of an online program with a local university, you don’t have access to the various campus facilities that other students get. Also, you don’t get the chance to make school your main focus like those who study on campus and surround themselves by like-minded individuals in an academic environment.

Choosing whether on-campus schooling or online schooling is better for you can be a difficult decision to make, but when you take a look at your life situation and your personality, it can help lead you to a decision. As long as you put in the hard work that earning any degree takes, you can get a great education with either choice. Find what’s right for you, and do your best.

This article was contributed by guest author Mila Sanchez.

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How Do I Decide Which College or University to Attend?

Infographic by Yokoland. Answers "What qualities were very or somewhat important when you were deciding which undergraduate college to attend?" in survey by the NewYork Times (click to view).

Infographic by Yokoland. Answers “What qualities were very or somewhat important when you were deciding which undergraduate college to attend?” in survey by the New York Times (click to view).

Big decisions often come down to the smallest details. As you grew from a baby to a toddler to a pre-teen, your parents increasingly gave you more freedom to make your own choices. While you may not have noticed it, you’ve been gaining valuable experience in making tough decisions. Now it’s time to make an essential lifetime decision – what post-secondary school to attend. You’re numb from the multitude of choices available. Some of them have sent current students to showcase (through creative, sometimes quirky presentations) how cool it is to go their school; others have sent you beautifully-designed catalogues with pictures of architecturally sound and well-preserved buildings older than both your parents combined, boasting pictures of perfect college students sitting on the greenest grass you’ve ever seen (Photoshop?), happily working on assignments with expensive laptops, soaking up the summer sun.

You try to block out the persuasion techniques and consider all angles as you solve this choice paralysis and make a well-rounded decision. Unlike that car or cool phone, your college degree has no return policy upon completion. It’s important to step back and take a calm look before jumping in. When you do, make sure you’re covering aspects that matter to you too, not just what you’ve been told to look for in a school (brochures aren’t everything). Here are two Ds you should consider:

Your Desire

You love clothes, flashing lights and the runaway. For as long as you can remember, you’ve always wanted to work in the fashion industry. Or maybe you see yourself as a life saver; always looking to help people, you’ve seen every episode of Grey’s Anatomy, and you’re convinced that the life of a medical professional is your calling. As the saying goes, “if you do what you love you’ll never work another day in your life.” This doesn’t simply mean that you should sit around pondering how to turn your NASCAR obsession into a money-making idea; it’s important to be realistic as well. Remember, once you do something for a living, it changes everything; you’re no longer doing it for pleasure, you’re now doing it to put food on the table. You’ll probably still enjoy it, possibly even love it, but it will likely be more demanding because of the responsibilities that go with it. You’ll have to meet the expectations of clients, bosses and coworkers, and slowly but surely, your obsession may start taking on the features of hard work. Look at Mark Zuckerberg for an extreme example. He started Facebook as a hobby; soon after, it became his job (and certainly pays well), but now, after taking the company public, he’s responsible for keeping multitudes of shareholders, the great majority of whom he doesn’t know personally, happy. Find the balance that works for you.

Industry Demand

20 years ago, there were no job postings for Social Media Manager, Application Developer, or Cloud Computing expert, but head to LinkedIn today. They’re EVERYWHERE. At the current speed of technological advancement, the jobs that will become available in the next 20 years will certainly be something most current students are not prepared for.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the demand for jobs such as Insurance Underwriter, Reporter, Database Administrator, Farmer, and Postal Service Clerk is decreasing. However, regional demand is a great way to gauge the potential return on your educational investment. According to the Globe and Mail, in Canada today, there is a shortage of skilled workers in particular regions for jobs including Heavy Duty Equipment Mechanics, Biologists, Plumbers, Physiotherapists and Welders. These occupations command higher than average income levels, which makes them quite attractive when you’re preparing to save money by skimping on shoelaces for the next four years.

If you have a strong sense of knowledge of your own desire as well as the demand levels in your desired industry, it should not be a challenge to decide who offers the required courses. It’s perfectly normal to be nervous when making such a big decision, but before settling into a certain degree option, make sure you fully understand the importance of the first two Ds.