If you’ve read any of my other articles you may have come to believe by my presentation of so many benefits in receiving an online education I was implying that it’s also easier than receiving a traditional education. While it may be second nature for some it’s definitely not true for everybody. Online education may require more discipline than you’re used to. There may be set class periods, but often there is not. You will have deadlines that you need to meet and if you’re not good at managing your own time well you may find that it’s much more difficult than the traditional classroom experience.

Whereas you were able to have set class periods for structure and the teacher’s physical presence to remind you each day of the coursework you needed to complete, in an online setting you may just have to begin setting your own structure.

Online material also isn’t some watered-down version of a classroom curriculum. You’ll find that the course material is very in depth and on par with what you would get in a regular classroom. A lot of the benefit from online learning comes from the flexibility in when and where you receive the material, but not so much in the content of the course. If it’s tough in the classroom, it’ll be tough online.

Another challenge that makes online learning more difficult for some is the lack of spontaneous interaction with classmates and teachers. And while there will most likely be means for you to interact with students and teachers in your online classes, the interaction many times doesn’t happen in real time as it does in the physical classroom. You may post a comment or question in a classroom forum and not receive an answer until the next day. If you’re patient this is fine, but if you feed off of that real-time interaction then online classes may be difficult for you in this respect.

Lastly, there is much talk about the benefits of taking class from home, but as many small-business owners who work from home realize, it’s not as easy as it sounds. At home there are almost an infinite number of distractions that can take you away from your studies. It may be your family, the cupboard, or the temptation to clean something. Unless you’re very good at setting boundaries, you may find that taking classes at home prolongs the amount of time it takes to finish a given class.

Researchers have found that students who study in a library are much more likely to get their work done quicker than the student who studies at home. That said, creating for yourself a specific place to study that has very limited distractions as well as setting for yourself a time that you’ll study in that place are essentials if you’re taking online class route.

So, while there are challenges to taking classes online if you know what they are you can better prepare to mitigate the risk & online classes may still be a powerful option for your educational endeavors.

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