Studying a course, whether full-time or part-time, can be a wonderful move for your career and learning. Many courses and fields of study also come with the option to choose between attending classes on campus and learning online.
In this post, we look at what’s involved in each different mode of study and what pros and cons you should consider when deciding which will best work for you!
In-Class Study – Structure Your Life Around Your Studies!
Learning on campus is a great, hands-on way to study. It will involve attending lectures and tutorials at a specific campus location for the duration of your course. Choosing to study in-class is a fantastic option if you want the full college or university ‘experience.’
On Campus Studying – The Pros
- Interactive learning. Through attending lectures, classes and workshops, you get to learn ‘in the flesh’ by interacting with your teachers, fellow students and practical materials. It can be easy to stay motivated in this way, rather than having to motivate yourself on your own.
- Face-to-face time with teachers. Being on campus also gives you the opportunity to speak to your lecturers and tutors face-to-face. You’ll be able to pick their brains and ask questions as you go along. Being face-to-face is great for building your academic and career network, too.
- The social aspect. Studying on campus is also a wonderful way to meet fellow students and even make friends. You can assist each other with assignments, study together and even attend designated study groups. If you prefer to learn with others, the on-campus option could be great for you.
- Being out and about. Being on campus also means you have the advantage of getting ‘out and about’ so that you can learn and study. If you’re the type that finds it difficult to get motivated or study distraction-free at home, an on-campus style of learning might be ideal.
On Campus Studying – The Cons
- You’re required to stick to a timetable. This means that you must physically be at a lecture or in class at specific times each week. If you’re balancing work or other life commitments, this can be difficult. And if you miss a lecture or class, you miss out on the knowledge.
- Attendance is often mandatory. Many on-campus courses will make attendance a portion of your final assessment and grade. Hence, if you miss or skip classes, it could affect your marks at the end of the course.
- Travel time. If you’re travelling to/from campus, this can also eat into your spare time. Things like traffic and public transport issues can also be frustrating, especially if you’ve got a long way to travel. Consider how much travel time you’re facing and how this could impact your daily schedules in general.
Online Study – Schedule Study Around Your Life!
Studying online has become a widely available and popular method of study in recent years, especially with the Internet at our disposal. Completing your course online can offer wonderful flexibility and can be great for those who have to juggle other commitments but still want to earn a qualification.
Online Study – The Pros
- Lots of flexibility. This is perhaps the biggest benefit of learning online. Each week, you get to choose what day and time you want to study. Materials and other notes are generally available 24/7. And while you may be required to attend certain group discussions and participate in forums, you can often do so at a time that’s convenient for you.
- Learn at your own pace. Many online courses also let you learn at your own pace, providing you with an overall timeframe in which to complete the course (e.g. 12 months). This means you can take as much or as little time as you need, without specific classes structuring your learning pace or your weekly schedule.
- More intimate support. On campus, you might find yourself in a huge lecture hall or a classroom of many students. Online classes are often much smaller, meaning you can gain easier access to your lecturers or tutors.
- No travel involved. An online mode of study means that you won’t have to worry about travelling to/from campus. Thus, you can maximise your time and spend more hours studying – rather than commuting.
- Cost. Depending on your industry, many online courses can be much more affordable than on-campus courses. You may want to consider an online qualification if you’re on a budget or if you simply want to keep your course fees down.
Online Studying – The Cons
- Lack of interaction. Since online studying essentially takes place at the computer, there can be minimal (or no) face-to-face interaction with teachers and classmates. In most cases, you’ll be communicating via email or online. For some students, this can make learning difficult.
- Issues with technology. Problems with technology can make online learning frustrating, especially if you can’t access materials and notes, or if you aren’t overly computer savvy or don’t have a great Internet connection. Think about how well you are set up in terms of technology when considering an online course.
- Ongoing self-motivation. This is the big one! You’ll have no one to encourage you to study except yourself. And sometimes it can be hard to discipline yourself and stay motivated to study, especially if you’re busy with other work and life commitments or can be easily distracted while at home. Consider how well you can discipline yourself if you’re thinking about studying online!
- You’ll still have to attend campus. For some courses, you still may have to head to a campus to complete an exam and assessments or attend a mandatory ‘on campus’ portion of your course. Take this into account too when considering your method of learning!
So which mode of study will be best for you?
- Go with an on campus course if you crave lots of social interaction throughout your studies and enjoy the idea of physically going to classes each week. You might have to shuffle your other commitments around a little, but studying on campus is a brilliantly structured way to learn and it can be easy to stay motivated and on track.
- Choose an online course if you prefer to learn at your pace, in your own time or in your own environment. Keep in mind that you’ll need to be highly self-disciplined, but the flexibility of online learning can be fantastic if you need to juggle other commitments, like a job or time with family/friends.