The shenanigans depicted in such college films as Old School, Accepted, and Van Wilder may make some people reconsider choosing an online education. And the debate over which educational path is "better" isn’t one that seems to be losing momentum. Nonetheless, this debate and the aforementioned films seem to forget the purpose of a college education, which is for students to gain the knowledge and skills necessary for a rewarding career, income, and future.
The simple fact is that a quality education is something students will obtain if they work for it, regardless of whether they choose the online or on-campus educational track. An education isn’t something that simply happens by sitting in class; students who put in the hard work it requires will attain it, while those who do not, will not. With that in mind, however, it is true that online students avoid some of the drawbacks inherent in the campus experience. Below are seven things you won’t miss if you choose to be an online student.
- Having to adhere to someone else’s schedule. Perhaps the biggest benefit of choosing an online education is that you generally make your own schedule. There are no classes to attend at specific times of the day, freeing you up to conveniently designate, or reschedule, your study schedule. There are deadlines for assignments, but an online education means you get to work at your own pace, on your own time.
- Constantly being poor. What establishing your own schedule means is that you are free to engage in activities other students don’t have the time for, like having a job. It’s no secret that college students tend to lack money; after all, the Ramen Noodles diet stereotype wasn’t born out of thin air. However, as an online student, you can plan your studies around a full-time or part-time job, allowing you to pay for your living expenses and with careful planning, perhaps even graduate debt-free.
- Disruptive neighbors. Van Wilder may be an exaggeration of the partying and tomfooleries that take place on and around college campuses, but it’s not that far from the truth; college students party during the week and tend to keep late hours. Living on-campus, or even off-campus, can mean loud neighbors who value their education less than you. And let’s face it, we all procrastinate; having such a distraction is just one more thing standing in the way of productivity. Conversely, an online education eliminates this problem, allowing you to study in the peace and comfort of your own home — possibly a home that’s far from rowdy fraternity neighbors.
- An awkward roommate. We’ve all heard roommate horror stories, and understandably so. Many universities require that students live on-campus at least their first year. So, if you don’t choose to live with someone you knew previously, you will be thrown into a room with one to three complete strangers; not to mention the restroom situation, which at some colleges means sharing the restroom with an entire floor of students. Even sharing a room with someone you know won’t necessarily translate to a peaceful living experience. Many times, living in such close quarters with a friend can put stress on the friendship. Conversely, as an online student, this problem is effectively inexistent. There are no requirements about where or with whom you live.
- Being run-ragged on a huge campus. Big campuses translate to one thing: Exhaustingly long walks to, from, and between classes. This is especially strenuous when you live in very hot climates, or in ones with frigid winters. If you choose to live off-campus during your time as a student, parking is another issue. It’s always limited and inconveniently located on the outskirts of campuses, which will require every ounce of patience you possess. When seeking an education, that should be your primary focus, not whether you’ll make it to class on time or have to fight for your parking spot right before a big exam. An online education, on the other hand, allows you to avoid this problem altogether, as traveling to or around a campus is not usually required.
- Being called out in class. Every now and then, on-campus students will take courses with professors who find it educational to call upon students at random. This is particularly true of graduate-level classes, which generally involves vast amounts of class participation and discussion. Frankly, being called out during class is something most students dread. Because their education is not completed in a classroom setting, this is never a concern for online students.
- The endless social distractions. Living on or around a college campus is a distraction in itself. College towns are usually very busy and students will find that people are constantly out doing things. It’s not that socializing isn’t important, but parties, meeting for food and drinks, and other social activities are a constant distraction for many. Those who don’t successfully balance their school life and social life may find that they are hurting their education. This is yet another issue not faced by online students, as they can study from anywhere in the country. This means they’ll find they experience fewer distractions than on-campus students.
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