Is Online School Right for You?

Posted: December 19, 2023 | Author: Madelyn Bushman | Read Time: 5 minutes

Two online students sit at a table looking at a laptop.

When individuals seek to improve their lives, higher education or training in their preferred career is often an integral part of that journey. 

Online education is becoming increasingly popular due to its convenience and flexibility. Who wouldn’t want to be able to learn more and become better qualified for their dream job from the comfort of their home? 

As you explore the internet in search of the online program that’s right for you, it’s important to contemplate whether you are right for online schooling. 

Here are a few things to consider: 

Will you have access to the technology you will need?

This encompasses owning a computer or laptop with internet connectivity and up-to-date software. If you’re concerned about whether your laptop can support the necessary internet speeds or software, check the technology requirements specified by the college. This will be especially important if you are pursuing a technology-related degree, such as cybersecurity or music technology.

If you do not own a computer or laptop, reach out to local schools to see if they are selling surplus computers, or reach out to local libraries to see if they rent out computers. Keep in mind that many libraries have computers available for free public use.  

While access to a personal computer with an internet connection is ideal, online students who are resourceful can often find solutions to complete their classes.

 Do you have and can you operate the software programs required?

How skilled are you at navigating the internet, using word processing software, spreadsheets, presentations or learning new applications? 

While Microsoft Office is most commonly used, other alternatives might better fit your situation, such as Google Workspace or iWork. 

It’s important to ask yourself if you can learn to use software programs with little to no training. You will need to learn how to use the university’s course management software, so you can access assignments, submit your work for authenticity checks, turn it in for evaluation and grading, take online quizzes and exams and participate in online course discussions.

Southern Utah University offers an introductory guide to Canvas for those who are unfamiliar with the system. 

You will also need to be familiar with Proctorio, as your online exams may require this software for remote exam proctoring.  If it’s new to you, don’t worry.  Tutorials will show you how to use it. 

There are plenty of online Chrome extensions available for online students that can make life easier too. 

Do you reasonably have the needed time (5-10 hours/week) to study?

If you are unable to consistently set aside 5-10 hours per week in your schedule, it might be prudent to postpone school until you can. There’s little sense in investing your time and money in pursuing an education when committing isn’t feasible for your schedule. 

Moreover, you wouldn’t want to feel pressured to rush through the course concepts. It’s essential to dedicate sufficient time in your schedule to learn, study, complete assignments and adequately prepare for exams without feeling squeezed by time constraints. 

There is never an ideal time to go to school because life is so busy, but the short-term sacrifice to make education a priority does pay off.

How motivated are you to stick with your program?

Ask yourself if you can maintain your drive and commitment to an online program over an extended period. For many, the importance of achieving their degree or certification serves as a substantial goal and motivator. 

Will this goal sustain you through study sessions, grappling with unfamiliar subjects, seeking extra assistance from tutors or advisors, and navigating life’s inevitable challenges? Your motivation must surpass the challenges you may face during your program. 

Do you possess the discipline needed to be a self-directed learner? 

With online learning, you have more freedom in deciding when to engage with lectures and course materials. However, it requires self-discipline to allocate time for learning. 

Will you postpone all assignments and projects until the last minute? Or can you establish a schedule and adhere to it with discipline? 

Students hold the responsibility of reaching out to their professors and teaching assistants when they require assistance with their assignments. Professors won’t see your eyes glaze over when you don’t understand a concept, and therefore cannot be responsive to those cues. Self-advocacy is necessary when you need help. 

Do you have a sufficient support system?

It’s no secret that going back to school is tough. You will have to make tough choices about where to spend your time and when. You will have to prioritize study over fun at times. But, when you have support systems in place to help pick up a little slack, it will make handling your additional responsibilities more manageable. Keep in mind that this is temporary. 

With your sufficient support system, remember to acknowledge and show gratitude for their efforts. Without this, the strain of school and stress can sometimes overwhelm relationships. 

Do you have a plan for paying for school? 

Numerous options exist when creating a payment plan for your education. Consulting a financial counselor at SUU can unveil various possibilities such as scholarships, work-study programs, preferred student loan options, Pell grants and structured payment plans. 

Additionally, exploring employer-provided tuition reimbursement, applying for private scholarships through specialized databases and completing the FAFSA application can also be beneficial.  

Learn about your financial options in our free How to Pay for College online course.

The key message is not to allow financial constraints to hinder the pursuit of your aspirations. Work with the University’s financial counselors to find the best plan to pay for your education. 

As you are considering applying to online schools to reach your desired destination, it’s crucial to evaluate whether your circumstances align with the requirements of online learning. 

Discuss your educational goals and your situation with SUU Online today!

Tags: Student Life Online

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