Perhaps a better question is why are you considering an online course?
Online courses are an effective way of gaining qualifications while striking that all important balance with work and home life.
However, if you don’t know what you want to study or why, then taking the leap may seem a bit too much like taking a risk.
Because online learning is a commitment both in terms of time and money, it’s important to make sure you have a clear outcome or objective in mind before you enrol.
Otherwise you could find yourself slogging your way through a course at the risk of failing and wasting your money as a result.
If you’ve never attempted any form of home study before – beyond homework as a child – it can seem extremely daunting.
Especially if you have a busy life already. The idea of fitting studies into your already busy week may seem horrifying.
But rest assured, with a bit of careful planning, it is possible.
Read on for answers to the most common concerns about taking an online course.
Online courses are harder
This isn’t necessarily true. Firstly, the course material you cover with a distance learning course will be more or less the same as a course offered by your local college.
This is because online courses have to go through the same accreditation process. So, an A Level from an online college is worth the same as one issued from your local 6th form.
Where online courses differ from the traditional approach is you decide what you learn and when, not the teacher.
That means the responsibility for your learning outcomes rests solely with you. Not everyone is comfortable with that idea and prefer teacher-led learning. Which is fine, there is nothing wrong with that approach at all.
It takes discipline and planning in order to get your course done. However, you have two years to complete most online courses so you should be able to make it work.
Moreover, you get to dictate the pace of your learning instead of someone else.
You set the timetable, you decide how long you’re going to study for, how frequently and how much you’ll procrastinate.
Structuring your studies so you can get the work done while still having a life is the best way of achieving academic success.
You will still complete assignments like you would a traditional course and sometimes sit the odd exam. The only real difference being that you take exams online with an invigilator watching you via webcam. Rather than sitting in an exam hall with other students.
It is impossible to fit studies in
Juggling work, home life and study can be difficult. And while the two year window to complete your studies can take the pressure off, it can also catch you out.
Procrastination is an easy habit to get into when you already have so much on your plate. When we’re busy we put off the harder tasks for another day.
When you’re feeling tired or stressed, sitting down to study may be the last thing you want to do. Inevitably this leads to leaving study to the last minute and producing work that isn’t your best and your overall mark suffering as a result.
Time management is the key. First set yourself a realistic goal of when you want to complete the course by. For something like an Access to HE Diploma or A Level 9-12 months is about right for the average person.
If you need longer, plan accordingly. Just set yourself a deadline. You can then work back from that, adding in when you intend to complete assignments and study sessions.
You should also factor in anything already in the diary that can’t be moved such birthdays, holidays, weddings etc.
Don’t kid yourself into thinking that you’ll study while sunning yourself on a beach. It won’t happen. Just give yourself the down time and plan your studies around it.
It may seem over the top but our most successful students put this much effort in when planning their studies. It eliminates wasted time and helps to maintain focus.
Will I pass?
The evidence suggests that more people pass online courses than those studying with traditional learning institutions.
This is partly because of how the information is communicated. Evening classes are often fast paced, condensed courses that require 100% attendance and 100% of your attention to get all the information.
And there is no real opportunity to go over anything that you missed or didn’t understand. There just isn’t the time.
You also need to study between lessons.
Online courses, on the other hand, give you the luxury of being able to go over the course content until you fully understand it.
But if you get stuck you can call on your dedicated tutor to help. Rather than competing with 29 other people for a few minutes at the end of each class.
Your tutor will also provide detailed feedback on your assignments which will make it easier for you to improve as you progress through the course.
Because you can take the learning at your own pace there is a big advantage. You can consume the course content without the concern of missing anything and you can retain far more information.
Are the courses any good?
All the courses accredited online course providers offer go through the exact same quality control process as any other.
They are all developed by course experts and regulated by Ofqual. The Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation is a non-ministerial government department that regulates qualifications, exams and tests in England.
Similarly, the Access to Higher Education Diplomas are developed in partnership with universities. That way you can be confident that the material you are studying is relevant to the degree you wish to study.
All this means you are guaranteed to get a recognised qualification once you have passed the course.
The other big advantage of online courses is the number of courses available.
This is partly down to how colleges decide what courses they are going to run. Essentially for a college to offer a course it needs to be profitable. Specifically, it needs to cover the cost of running the course – and the associated upkeep of facilities.
If there aren’t enough students to cover those costs, then the course doesn’t go ahead.
Online colleges however don’t have the same operating costs associated with their course. 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.
Is online education right for me?
Everyone should feel like they have the capacity for learning and online educators makes learning accessible to all. Because all the material and the assignments are online, anyone can enrol and gain qualifications.
The most important question is can you commit to completing the course? In most cases courses are paid so it’s also a commitment of your money as well as your time. Therefore, you should only enrol if you’re certain you can see it through to completion.
However, you’re not alone. You will have the support of your personal tutor to help you. They are on hand to answer questions and they will feedback on your work too.
There is also an administrative team that can help you with any issues you may have regarding finances.
learndirect offer a wide range of online learning courses including fully accredited Access to Higher Education Diplomas and A Levels in order to help you realise your ambitions.