My home office (early Dec 2009)
As with anything else in life, there are pros and cons to attending college online. If you are considering pursuing your master’s in criminal justice, an online degree is a very real option. You must stop to weigh your options before signing up for classes online. For some people, an online program is a dream come true. For other people, an online program is simply too difficult to complete. Here is some information that can help you decide if you will be successful in completing a master’s program online:
Pros of Online Classes
Many people find that the flexibility of an online program allows them to keep up with the demands of work and family. Classes can be taken anywhere you have access to a computer and at any time of day or night. This is particularly helpful if you are pursuing a degree while working outside of the home.
Online degree programs often have a lower rate of tuition than traditional brick-and-mortar schools. Aside from the tuition savings, students also save the money they would otherwise have to spend on room and board. Many online programs offer course materials in electronic format, saving students money on books as well.
If you live in a rural area of the country or don’t have access to a major college or university, enrolling in an online program offers you more choice. For instance, you can live in Kansas and earn a degree from a college in Massachusetts, all without leaving the comfort of your couch.
Cons of Online Classes
Students who enroll in an online program must be able to motivate themselves to study and complete coursework. With freedom and flexibility comes the need to be incredibly organized. Students essentially have no one to answer to but themselves. If you aren’t able to motivate yourself to study, complete coursework and turn in assignments on time, you won’t find success in the online college environment.
Many people who choose online master’s degree programs do so because they have other obligations that prevent them from attending a traditional school. These outside obligations can be a hindrance to those students who aren’t able to organize themselves. Self-scheduling is an absolute must when attending college online. Students must be able to set aside time to study and complete coursework, even if it means that laundry piles up or dishes get done tomorrow.
Some students must have direct, face-to-face contact with instructors and fellow students in order to be successful. In an online course, contact takes place primarily in the form of email and online forums. While some students thrive in this type of atmosphere, others flounder. If you need to be able to maintain direct contact with your instructors, an online master’s program may not be the type of program for you.
Online colleges and universities work incredibly well for many students. To find success in an online master’s program, you must be able to organize yourself, teach yourself and stay motivated. If, on the other hand, you need a program that is more formally structured in order to succeed, an online program may not be your best choice. Weigh the pros and cons before you make your decision! By making an informed choice, you can do nothing but succeed!
About the author: Shelly Winters writes full time for higher education blogs and magazines. She writes for criminal justice online schools where you’ll find more information on online higher education.