Online courses are, in all the most crucial ways the same as those studied in a traditional setting.
For example, an A Level course studied online will give you the same qualification as one gained from your local college.
Providing the online college is appropriately accredited, of course. Although the material within the course itself may be different, but by no means less valuable.
However, while the qualifications at the end of the course may be the same, the approach and the experience are very different.
Below are some of the key differences between the traditional college experience and studying online.
One of the big advantages of studying in a traditional setting is the opportunity to make friends and get involved with campus life.
You also get the benefit of having fellow students to bounce ideas off or study with should you need to. If you’re a little rusty when it comes to study, it can be advantageous to have a study group to rely on.
Studying an online course obviously doesn’t give you that. However, if you are returning to education and merely want to gain your qualification the social aspect is entirely secondary.
Your focus and priorities will be totally different to that of your fellow students. Especially if you are older and studying so you can change careers. As opposed to younger people who are preparing to go to university and live away from for the first time.
If you fall into this older demographic, then then the social aspect may be something you’re not particularly interested in.
Moreover, between family and work commitments hanging out with fellow students may not even be an option.
An online course gives you the ability to focus on study and getting your qualifications. Rather than the extraneous elements that you can’t or don’t want to take advantage of anyway.
Importantly, however, just because you don’t have the support of fellow students, doesn’t mean you’ll be on your own.
Online courses include a dedicated tutor to provide you with support throughout. You are free to ask them as much or as little as you want, it is entirely up to you. If all you want is feedback on your assignments, that’s fine. If you want to check your comprehension regarding a specific subject, that’s fine too. They are there to help you achieve, jus the same as a traditional college.
Flexibility (or lack thereof)
One of the biggest challenges for anyone studying in a traditional setting is the limitations imposed by the institute’s timetables and term dates.
This can mean juggling work and family life. Depending on your current role that can pose a real problem. Especially if you’re already having to factor in childcare.
The problem doesn’t get much easier if the classes are in the evening. As instead of finding time in the day, you have to find time at night.
This can mean skipping lunch to leave work early. Or swapping shifts with someone. And that’s assuming you make it to class on time.
It all adds up to a considerable amount of stress.
This is compounded by the pace that many evening classes and college course move at to cover the subject material. If you miss a class, then you’re playing catch up.
Online study, however, gives you the flexibility to study when it suits you. There are no classes, so there’s no rushing around. You can never miss a class because you decide when you learn.
You can plan your studies around work, holidays, birthdays or even duvet days.
Because all the course materials are online, you can also study at a pace that works for you and your existing commitments.
There are also no term dates either so you can start studying when you want, rather than waiting until September.
This is especially useful if you’re trying to achieve your required qualification in time to enrol on to a university course.
If you decide to return to education, you will find there is a huge number of courses to choose from.
When a college elects to offer a course, it is based on several factors. The most important being how much the course will cost to run and how many students will enrol. If the course is too expensive or the uptake is too low, then it will get cancelled.
That’s why courses can suddenly be withdrawn with little or no notice.
Online colleges however don’t have the same operating costs associated with their course. There are no classrooms to maintain or large administration teams to pay.
This means online course providers can invest in a far greater range of courses and run them indefinitely.
You have the benefit of choosing from dozens of different courses to meet your professional and personal ambitions.
The other advantage of online courses is they often have the involvement of universities in terms of what it covers. Especially for the Access to Higher Education Diplomas.
This is to ensure that the material is most relevant to the degree they give you the foundation for.
Studying an Access to HE Diploma gives you a major advantage when it comes to moving on to higher education.
Considering that those studying online courses retain as much as five times the information, it should be an easy decision.
Although this can be partly attributed to the more relaxed approach to your learning, it has more to do with the fact you can take as long as you want to learn.
There is no time limit or a teacher pushing to move on so they can fit all the material into the allotted time. You take as long as you need to absorb the knowledge, in order to gain your qualification.
With such a huge range of courses now available through distance learning providers, the opportunity to learn something new is huge.
Whether you want to learn a hobby, start a business or go to university there’s a course out there for you. All you need to do is sign up and begin.
Stonebridge Associated Colleges offer a wide range of Access to Higher Education Diplomas in order to help you realise your ambitions.
Checkout out our Access Diplomas or contact a member of our sales team today to learn more and enrol.