online coursesOne of the most exciting and important decisions you will make during your lifetime is which college to attend. This decision used to consist of simply determining which location fit your needs best by considering such factors as geography, cost and available programs. Now you can add another factor to your list: do you want to attend a brick-and-mortar school at all, or would you prefer to study through an online program? You are no longer required to uproot your entire life to move halfway across the country if you wish to continue your education. However, there are many unique challenges that you will face when attending school online.

Social Experience
The number one challenge you could face with an online curriculum is a relative lack of social interaction. College is an important time in a young adult’s life, a period that allows you to form your own opinions and your own identity, to grow and meet new people. However, while you are attending class online most of your time will be spent alone. Group projects will probably be completed through email, messaging systems, Skype and similar programs. Therefore, it is important that you seek out other forms of social interaction during your course of online study.

Interaction with Professors

Similarly, you will not get the face to face time with your professor that you would have in a traditional college setting. If you tend to be fairly quiet and to rely on others to ask questions, this setting may be more difficult for you. You will be forced to become more proactive and to actively seek out contact with your teacher if you do not understand something. On the bright side, this interaction can help you grow as a person.

Time Management
An online college will give you a great deal more flexibility in your schedule than would a traditional college. You will be able to complete your classes during the hours that work best for you, instead of worrying about scheduling your classes around your job or vice versa. However, you must first ensure that you are ready for this responsibility. It is very easy to procrastinate when you do not have the accountability of an ironclad premade schedule.

Matching Schedules
You may find that this flexibility can occasionally be problematic, since there may not always be someone available to help you during the times you choose to study. For example, if you are working on an assignment and have a question at midnight, you may not get an answer until the next day, whereas in a traditional setting you could have asked during class and not had to wait for an answer. This could mean that you may occasionally be delayed in completing your assignments.

Learning Styles
You should also take into account your learning style when considering an online school. Of course, you will need to be self-motivated. Additionally, however, if you learn best through listening to lectures and presentations, you should ensure that the online program you are considering offers this style of course presentation. Similarly, if you prefer to learn by reading slides, notes and other types of text, you should ensure that this is also available. You may want to discuss the available formats with the school before enrolling.

Discipline
Finally, if you do decide to attend college online, you should create a set schedule for yourself, and make sure that you stick to it. As long as you have the self-discipline to stay motivated and productive, an online curriculum can help you juggle your various responsibilities while still reaching your educational goals.

Today’s guest post is contributed by Amanda Keight, on behalf of PaperStarter.com, a free resource for essay and paper topics, thesis statements and important quotes.