Most of my friends spend their Sunday nights stressing out as they rush to submit their essay before the assignment deadline at midnight. Not me though. I spend my Sunday nights just as I do most other nights–crawling into bed to binge-watch Netflix, with the comforting thought that I can sleep in on Monday morning. Just like my friends, I have readings to do, content to revise, and assignments to write. The one key difference though is that I do it all online.
Because my uni campus is technically in the cloud, I can study whenever I want. There aren’t any 8am lectures, awkward tutorial ice-breakers or painfully long commutes on public transport. That said, completing my degree entirely online isn’t all peachy.
1. Flexibility to study when you want
Not having a set timetable with lectures and classes to attend at a specific time every week means I have the option to study when it suits me. This means I have more time to do the things I actually want to do, like going to the gym, picking up an extra shift at work, or going on an impromptu road trip to the beach on a weekday.
The flexibility does have it’s downsides…
I’d be lying if I told you I have enough self-discipline not to waste my free time by procrastinating. I’ve definitely fallen into the ‘I’ll just do it tomorrow’ trap a few too many times and sometimes I’d give anything to have a physical location to travel to, with a tutor who could force me to do the work I constantly put off. An online degree takes the independent learning aspect of university to a whole new level.
2. Students are generally older
The majority of people who choose to study online are older, usually with full-time jobs and families to take care of. While mature-aged students are rare among a crowd of on-campus millennials, the online community is full of people with more years of experience in the workforce than the number of years I’ve been alive. At the very least, this means the discussion forums in my online classroom are always entertaining to read, with eighteen-year-olds studying the same content as people who still think lol means ‘lots of love’.
3. There’s less face-to-face interaction
Although an online degree completely eliminates awkward conversations with your tutor about an essay topic you haven’t even started the research for, it also means that whatever communication you have with them needs to take place through email. This can be difficult sometimes, especially if writing isn’t your strong suit or if you’re so lost on an assignment that you don’t even know where to start.
Studying online can also feel isolating at times because it doesn’t offer the social perks of a university campus, such as clubs and societies.
4. Studying online increased my employability
In almost all the interviews I’ve had for jobs or volunteering roles since I started studying, the online aspect of my degree has been a talking point. Potential employers are always interested to hear about why I chose to study online, and perhaps more importantly, what I’ve learnt in the process. I often respond with stories about completing group assignments with students of all ages and backgrounds, and how my online degree has improved my time management and communication skills.
More than anything though, I find it reassuring to study alongside people who start their degree with a career change in mind, because it proves that even if I don’t know exactly where my degree will take me, I’ll never be ‘too old’ or ‘too busy’ to learn something new.
by Jenna Worswick