Is Distance Learning a Good Way to Complete Postgraduate Study
Distance learning has become a popular way of completing one’s postgraduate study. It is very suitable for young working professionals who cannot take a break from their jobs because of family responsibilities or financial constraints.
Regular post graduate programs require you to not just pay tuition fees but several programs are in colleges and universities in a different town and hence, you may have to pay for food and lodging as well. This increases the cost burden on the student and is undesirable for many students who have financial constraints.
In distance learning, the main benefits are convenience of time and place and lesser cost burden. These benefits might be motivating for not just professionals but also fresh graduates who prefer to study from home.
However, not everyone may be cut out for completing a postgraduate program through distance learning . A postgraduate program has a lot of syllabus and some programs may involve a mini thesis or project work as well. One requires to be self-motivated, determined and resilient to face and conquer all the roadblocks that may arise during the self-learning journey.
There are several distance learning programs and most of them have an internet based component in today’s time. While some courses may be completely online, there may be others which provide study material that is posted to your home or residential address. While studying online, a key aspect is good written communication. Since one is in touch with professors and teachers through the online medium, how well they communicate their doubts and questions will determine how well they do in their distance learning course.
Several colleges and distance learning programs have online forums for students to get in touch and communicate among themselves. They also make use of tools such as emails, and interactive chats. Certain university programs provide infrastructure support such as teleconferencing, audio and video.
For those wanting to complete a postgraduate program through distance learning, time management is an essential skill. One must also be aware of their areas of strength and weakness. Since there are usually no strict rules binding the students to a class and its assignments for the online courses, students may develop a lax attitude. This is detrimental for the successful completion of the course.
However, the very fact that there is no fixed schedule gives the student the freedom to select their own schedule and follow it with a certain degree of determination and discipline. Since most online postgraduate programs cover one unit or module in a week, there is a great degree of freedom with regard to attending the online class and completing the required reading and assignments.
The online professors or instructors are mostly very supportive and help their students to find the perfect balance between work and study. They also help students in developing time management skills by providing time bound assignments or projects. One is required to complete these assignments on time in order to get graded on the same. If one fails to deliver these assignments on time, the instructors mostly get in touch through email or call to enquire why an assignment was not completed. Sometimes a grace period may be provided to submit the assignment and at other times, a certain amount of grade points might be deducted for late submissions. This inculcates a habit of delivering work on time even though the course is online. In the past, lesser importance was accorded to distance learning programs as they were not considered to be as authentic as on-campus programs. However, the scenario is changing and many employers encourage their employees to enhance their knowledge and skill by undergoing a distance learning program for post-graduation. There is increased acceptability for online and distance learning programs among employers.
Also, because of the increasing competition among universities and colleges, the quality of the distance education programs has risen. They are now created to be at par with the regular campus-based programs. Hence, students wishing to complete their postgraduate study through a distance program may not be losing out on anything in terms of knowledge or information.
The one thing that may be lacking in a distance program is the lack of a peer group. While students may interact with each other via forums, chats and emails, the actual camaraderie that is built with friends on a campus may be missing. This also results in the lack of a strong peer network that can be utilized in the long run when wishing to make job shifts etc.
Hence, choosing to complete a postgraduate program through distance learning must be done with a lot of care and attention. One must be sure that they will have sufficient motivation to carry on the course alone and that they will not quit midway. Other than that, post graduate programs through distance learning are definitely worth one’s time.