Studying online vs in person

The Covid pandemic forced universities to adapt their teaching to a virtual model. This unexpected change led to a huge expansion in online learning. This has given students the ability to study many subjects like law and medicine online. This article compares studying online vs in person.

Choosing between an online and on-campus masters

If you choose to study online you will have a lot more flexibility about your schedule and timings. That’s why an online masters is so good for people who have to work or have family and home commitments.

You can study your materials or watch lectures or contribute to discussions when it suits you. In short you can study at your own pace. Just remember that your academic tutors will not be following the same timings as you!

On a university campus you will be part of a group of students and staff who meet in person. This can be helpful if you need to mix with people and want to interact face to face, but this style of study does not suit everyone.

Of course, if you are located in another country and time zone then online study still allows you to be part of the university, without all the additional responsibility of travel and living overseas.

Relocation overseas or to another city plus the costs of living and travel on top of your fees is a big consideration for lots of masters degree students. That’s why online study can make all the difference towards achieving your goal of a masters degree.

What is the online learning platform like?

As a student on an online learning masters degree you will be required to get access to your course materials via the internet. You will be given access to a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). This is a special web based browser system which allows you to get access to course materials, download lecture notes and view online presentations and course video content. You will also complete any essays and assignments and upload them to you tutor via the VLE.

The VLE will also give you access to communicate with the other students on the courses and elsewhere in the university. Like all social media it allows you the ability for 1-2-1 engagement as part of a group o individual, and this is a really great way to learn as well as catch up with colleagues.

If you have been away from study for a while, then you will need to be confident with using this kind of technology. Its useful to get in tough with the university to check if you can speak to a current student who is in the middle of their online masters so they can share some tips with you.

Advice for new students if its your first time using an online learning system

Remember that although you are studying alone you are part of a group of students all doing the same thing, so make sure you reach out to your study colleagues and share ideas.

Share anything you are not sure about, such as new phrases and technical descriptions. Write down any words or abbreviations that are new to you and keep this index up to date.

Use the online discussion boards to express yourself. If this is the first time you are studying a technical subject then you can use the forums to improve your writing style and help you express yourself in an academic way.

Try to set yourself challenges with subjects that you are not confident with. Remember its up to you as to how much you want to get out of the study experience. If you stick to ‘safe’ areas, then you won’t know if you could have achieved more by widening you range of interests.

Your future is open

You never know when any additional subjects could come in useful for future career opportunities.

Be prepared to spend a lot more time on your studies than you anticipate. Any kind of academic study requires dedication, so if you can only set aside a modest amount of time to pursue your subject then ultimately you won’t give yourself the best opportunity to do as well as you could.

Remember that studying online vs in person is not the ‘easy’ option – the level of work and dedication to your craft is just as intense as it would be if you were in person on-campus.

Whatever the motivation you have for deciding to study a masters course online, you are likely to be surprised by what it leads to. Many students find that the process of further study leading to a postgraduate qualification enables them to grow in confidence.

Better results than expected

Students may have found themselves in fairly undemanding careers after undergraduate university, but once they have completed their masters, they find that it allows them to reset their career goals and they find the courage to try out new opportunities.

This often happens if a student did not complete their undergraduate degree with a strong grade – often the masters qualification is better than they were anticipating.

Remember that a masters is your opportunity to go in a new direction. Many online masters degrees are conversion courses, which means you can enrol onto a masters course that does require that you studied the undergraduate version before. Studying online vs in person is all about having the opportunity to reach your goals.