Choose the Learning Environment that Best Suits You

There are many factors to take into consideration when selecting the type of school you will attend. One such factor is what kind of learning environment best suits you and your schedule. When evaluating your school options, you should consider whether you would prefer to participate in a campus-based education program, an online education program or a combination of the two.

Campus-Based Education

A campus-based education program consists of a structured classroom environment, where students and professors meet in person at scheduled times and days throughout the length of the course. Learning typically takes place through lectures as well as classroom discussions.

There are many positive aspects to a campus-based education:

  • Face-to-Face Interaction – One of the positive aspects of a traditional campus-based education is the ability to interact directly with your professors and your peers. This face-time can give some students the motivation they need to successfully complete their classes.
  • Accessibility of Resources – Students typically find that with campus-based education programs, they have more access to educational resources such as laboratories, libraries and other campus resource centers.
  • Instructor Sets the Pace – For those students who need more direction and regular deadlines to stay on top of their education, a campus-based setting might be a more successful environment for learning.
  • Peer-Learning – While many people think education comes from reading a textbook and listening to lectures, a great portion of a student’s learning comes from peer discussions in the classroom. While some online institutions are trying to recreate this type of learning for their web-based programs, some of the greatest sources of peer interaction are still held within the classroom.

Other things to consider before choosing a campus-based education:

  • Transportation or Housing Costs – If you choose to attend a campus based education program, you may choose to live on or off campus. It is important to consider how the cost of housing or gas fits into your budget as you make your choice.
  • Fixed Class Schedule – Unless you are certain that you can be available for your scheduled class times, a campus-based education may pose a problem with your overall ability to succeed. While some professors are more understanding than others, campus-based programs allow little scheduling flexibility for those situations that sometimes arise when you have a family and/or a full-time job to juggle as well.

Online Education

Online education, also known as distance learning or e-learning, is a way to attend college without having to physically go to a classroom.Online education started as a way for working adults to earn higher degrees in a more convenient way, but has become popular among traditional students as well.

There are many positive aspects to an online education:

  • Convenience – Completing your degree from the comfort of your own home or your favorite coffee shop is a convenience that an online education provides. Not only can you participate in your classes whenever it is most convenient for your busy schedule, you can also save significant time and money that the traditional student spends on commuting to or living on campus.
  • Set Your Own Pace – Most online programs allow students to set their own pace when completing their classes. You can study a little each evening or set aside blocks of time on the weekends to create a schedule that fits best with your life.
  • Pay as You Go – Many online programs allow students to take one class at a time and pay as they go. This can be very helpful for students who already have a full-time career and do not want to take many classes at once. While this is accommodating for many individuals, it is important to take into consideration that more financial aid benefits are available to those students who are enrolled at least half-time in their program of choice.
  • Less Intimidating for New Students – Online education programs are a great choice for students who are questioning their ability to assimilate into a college environment. Returning to school after many years can be stressful. Many students find success when they are allowed to ease into an online education by taking a smaller number of courses.

Other things to consider before choosing an online education program:

  • Investment in Technology – Participating in an online education program typically requires you to have access tocomputers, software, webcams and high-speed internet access. You should consider the cost and your ability of obtaining access to these resources when considering an online program.
  • Access to Feedback – The convenience of an online program may limit your ability to obtain immediate feedback from professors and peers, especially if studying at odd hours.

Combining Online and Campus-Based Learning

Many colleges offer both online and campus-based programs. Students are able to craft the ideal mix of programs that allows them to take more courses, study at their own pace and get the "best of both worlds" from their college education.