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Pro Advice

Online vs. Campus Learning: Which Is Right for You?

On the fence about whether to attend a college campus or study online? Ask yourself these three questions.

Of the many choices you’ll face while planning for college, an important one is whether to attend a campus or study online – or, perhaps, a little of both.

Depending on the schools you’re considering applying to, you may be able to choose from a wide range of learning options. Having an array of choices sounds great because you can lay out your education according to your personal learning style. But beware; this freedom can also be a potential stumbling block, since many students don’t know or are simply not honest with themselves about their academic needs.

If you’re on the fence about whether to attend a campus or study entirely online, ask yourself the following questions.

What options are available at the preferred colleges in your desired career path?

This is the first thing you should check. Maybe you’re planning to study film production and your desired school only offers it as a campus (in-person) degree. In that case, studying online may not be an option. Before you delve too far into which learning style is right for you, see what your realistic choices are.

How disciplined are you?

While it’s true that online learning does offer some unique flexibility, a common misconception is that online students can work entirely at their own pace. As an online student, you will have strict deadlines and enough coursework to keep you just as busy as a campus student. Consider whether you’re disciplined enough to log in to your classes consistently and set your own study schedules.

“Online education is definitely not for everyone,” says Bethann Durlin, Director of Student Success at Full Sail University. “For some people, it can be more difficult [than campus learning] because you have to be an independent learner, excellent at time management, and motivated to activate yourself to work. The lack of accountability, while enticing to some, can be a huge detriment to others.”

Where do you want to live?

Are you thrilled about the idea of living on your own in a new town? Great! Campus life might be perfect for you. Are you apprehensive or not sure if it’s something you want to try? That’s okay, too. Seeking new experiences is an important part of transitioning into adulthood, but be honest with yourself if you don’t want to venture too far from your comfort zone just yet. In that case, you may want to attend a campus within commuting distance, or consider a degree that allows you to start with online classes and move forward from there.

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