It's not just your imagination. Online classes are growing in popularity, and it's not because they're easy. Distance student enrollments had increased for the 14th straight year in 2016, according to the "Grade Increase" report by the Babson Survey Research Group.
Online courses aren't necessarily easier than traditional on-campus classes — just different. Designed with working adults in mind, online degree programs are flexible, accessible and more convenient than traditional on-campus classes. However, they require discipline, time management and preparation, and your studies must be a priority, rather than an afterthought.
"Don't assume that it's easy because it's online," cautions Tamika Scott, a current online Bachelor of Science in Business Administration student, full-time employee and mother. "It still requires discipline and commitment. It's not just going to be given to you. Pay attention to the syllabus. Whatever is asked of you is what you need to do."
The 2018 results of the National Survey of Student Engagement found that successful college students are expected (as a general rule) to spend 2-3 hours outside of class studying for every credit hour taken. But that amount can vary by class or student. "Most of the classes would have at least 10 hours of work per week attached to them, if you count the reading," recalls BSBA online graduate Anna Boone.
Perhaps the biggest draw of online classes is that you only need internet to access your courses. Use that to your advantage. Plan to log on every day so that the coursework is less overwhelming. At the very least, check in 3-5 times a week to keep up with assignments, due dates and syllabus changes. Work ahead, if possible. You never know what may come up due to your work and home responsibilities.
Make use of any downtime you have. As long as you have the internet and your phone, you should be able to check in while waiting at the doctor's office, your son's baseball game, or the oil change place. "When you have a free moment, there's probably something you can do to fill it," offers Ben Conner, a BSBA online graduate. "It may not feel like it, but there is always something you can do today that is going to make tomorrow go a little smoother."
"I didn't have any trouble balancing everything," shares Boone. "For the most part, the work could be done. Every assignment had a fixed date it was due. You just had to plan when you were going to work on it and turn it in." Your planner should include all of your commitments such as work, school, family and volunteer time.
"Learning is a continuous lifelong pursuit for personal and professional development. Most change careers three or four times in their professional life," observes Dr. Randall Dupont, associate professor of management and online BSBA instructor at LSUA. "Online learning is the future of education because it gives individuals the flexibility to integrate learning on a continual basis to prepare for these career changes."
Online classes are designed for students who need to earn a degree on their own terms. You get to determine your schedule but it requires discipline, time management and preparation to make it happen.
Learn more about LSUA's online Bachelor of Science in Business Administration program.
Have a question or concern about this article? Please contact us.