How to Tell if Online Education Is Right for You

Online education is a growing field that many students are turning to as they pursue undergraduate or graduate degrees. Not sure if you want to earn a degree through a distance learning program? Check out our traits below to see if online education is right for you.

Traits of an Online Student

Before you decide which traits from our list apply to you, here's a brief breakdown and explanation of some of the traits that can be found in online students. We've ranked the traits based on importance to help give you an idea of which are 'must haves' and which are 'nice to haves'.

Trait Explanation
1. Have Computer and Internet Access You can't complete an online degree program if you're not able to get to a computer or log in to the internet, so easy access is important.
2. Self-Motivator As an online student, you need to be able to motivate yourself to get your work done since you might not have all of the constant reminders that students in more traditional settings get.
3. Good at Meeting Deadlines You might have specific deadlines for turning in assignments or posting on a discussion board, so you need to be able to keep track and meet those deadlines so you get credit for your work and participation.
4. Comfortable Participating in Online Discussions Since many online programs require you to participate in discussion boards, it's important that you're willing to share your thoughts and ideas.
5. Comfortable Working Independently Online learning means doing things on your own time, so you need to be able to work on your own and without the structure of being in a classroom.
6. Organized You need to be able to keep your course materials and assignments orderly so that you don't let anything fall through the cracks. You also need to know when things are do, when there are lectures you need to check out and how to make use of resources so that you can get the most out of an online environment.
7. Responsive to Online Communications Your professors and classmates will communicate with you via email and possibly online chat, so you need to be good about checking for them and responding to them on a regular basis and in a timely manner.
8. Good at Planning Ahead You need to have a good grasp on all of your personal and professional commitments so that you can properly plan fitting in your educational commitments.
9. Enjoy Using the Computer Since online students spend a lot of time on their computers in order to listen to lectures, communicate with others and complete assignments, it's important that you like using a computer and don't see it as your arch nemesis.
10. Prefer Flexible Scheduling Options Many online students are juggling a lot of commitments, like a career and family, so flexible scheduling is important to them.

Do You Have What it Takes?

Now that you understand the traits of an online student, take another look at them and keep track of how many apply to you.

  • Have computer and internet access
  • Self-motivator
  • Good at meeting deadlines
  • Comfortable participating in online discussions
  • Comfortable working independently
  • Organized
  • Responsive to online communications
  • Good at planning ahead
  • Enjoy using the computer
  • Prefer flexible scheduling options

online student

How many of the traits apply to you?

If the majority of them did, it sounds like you might enjoy online education. Your next steps should be researching schools and programs that might interest you, and getting more details about what it means to be an online student. If you don't have any schools in mind yet, find out about 10 things to look for when picking an online school.

You can also check out today's top five best online colleges.

If it didn't seem like many applied to you and you're still on the fence about if online education is right for you, research your options further. Earning a degree is a big commitment and you want to ensure you're making the right choice before you commit to anything. You can start by learning about traditional learning versus distance learning.

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