You’ve signed up to take classes at Globe University Online College because the classes are convenient and flexible. You can earn your degree and still work. However, you feel like you’re missing that college experience of being on campus. How can you maintain a job, keep up with your classes, have a social life and get the most out of your online college experience?
Defining the “college experience”
There really is no typical college experience, since what anyone wants out of college can depend on a variety of factors, i.e. age, degree, career goals, etc. Generally speaking, however, according to an online piece, by Karen McKeown, Can Online Learning Reproduce the Full College Experience? “[t]he traditional college experience can be broken down into three broad components: educational, social, and extracurricular.”
The online educational experience is more student-centered
Actually, according to McKeown, online students have somewhat of an advantage over the traditional in-class environment. Aside from the advantage of pursuing studies where and when it is convenient, online learning promotes the student-centered approach where the teacher is more a guide and mentor than a lecturer on stage. In fact, online instructors interact more with their students, who are more likely to seek extra help and ask questions.
You can be social and collegial online
The aforementioned online social interaction with teachers doesn’t always occur as easily in the classroom. Again, McKeown reports a phenomenon of online bonding with instructors that distance students develop, which encourages class participation. Likewise, one group of online science students at Colorado State University performed better on tests than their on-campus counterparts, and, according to McKeown, had a higher incidence of “high-level interactions” online. Students in that online class spontaneously, and without being prompted by the instructor, formed online study groups and set up review sessions.
Social networking = extracurricular bonding
Today our social interactions are no longer confined to geographical bounds. Interacting with fellow students in the classroom can widen your horizons as you join a student community and stay in touch through other social media outside the formal college setting. More good news is that participating in online classes promotes better interaction between people from a wide range of cultural backgrounds more so than the classroom on campus. McKeown reports:
“In fact, for many students, the campus experience may be less of an opportunity to get to know people from different cultures and backgrounds than students assume.”
It’s a balancing act
When things to do surpass the time available to do them, When things get busy, it all becomes a matter of priority, focus, and balance. Your first priority is your job, but your boss may be willing to give you some slack while you’re completing an online college course. You can maintain your study focus if you budget your time and arrange your home study environment to block out distractions.
Finally, balancing all of the above and maintaining a social life is something you can work at as you get to know your instructor and your fellow students. Your online educational experience can be as rich as walking the ivy-adorned campus commons. It all, depends on what you are willing to put into it.