Earning a degree is never easy but there are a wide range of course alternatives for students today that ten years ago simply would not have been an option. Advances in technology led to the creation of the virtual classroom or the online class. For students who can’t fit a traditional class into their schedule, online classes present a flexible, challenging option to earn course credit without stepping into a classroom. Distance learning is just one of several great options available for students to take advantage of if their schedule has little breathing room. If you are determined to earn a degree, but short on time or money, there are some options for you to consider.
Two-year or junior schools, are typically far more flexible in terms of scheduling, and credit alternatives than traditional four-year universities. For adults who intend to earn a degree without leaving their career and for students who are not interested in the campus activities offered at other institutions, community colleges offer a chance to earn credit for general courses at any pace and on a schedule that meets the specific needs of each student.
Classes are typically informal, but this does not mean that they are easier or that the curriculum is not as strong as what you would find in a traditional university. The purpose of the informality is to make assistance from instructors more accessible and to support students who are juggling work, class, and kids. The curriculum is challenging and the instructors are engaged; benefiting from the structure of a community college class is entirely up to the students. Most universities, though they’ll deny it, are averse to the notion of "flexible schooling options", which community colleges endorse. University classes are formal; professors are more difficult to approach and it is assumed that students are devoting all of their efforts and time to their studies within the school.
If you work a 9 to 5 job or are just attending school part-time, night classes are an excellent alternative that help students free up their daily schedule. In my experience, night classes were less formal, students were more eager to participate, and regular attendance was higher. Typically such classes are a little longer, but they only meet once or twice a week. If you are a part-time student it is easier to prepare for night classes because you have several hours during the day to complete any assignments that you are running behind on. If you are thinking about taking a night course, keep in mind that it can be more difficult for students to meet with the professor for assistance. Typically, instructors who teach night classes have an unconventional schedule as well, and they may only work at the school part-time; this type of class is best for independent students who are self-motivated learners.
Most schools have a distance learning program which consists of a body of online courses that students can earn credit in right from their home computer. If your schedule is tight but earning a degree is a high priority, an online degree program might be a good fit for you. Students can opt to combine traditional classes with distance learning classes, or take all courses online. Many community colleges and several four-year universities offer online associates, masters, and doctorates degrees for non-traditional students. Sometimes online courses meet on campus a couple times throughout the semester so that the students can touch base with the professor and meet their virtual classmates. Virtual classrooms implement a wide variety of learning techniques to engage students and bring to life the two dimensional classroom; audio, video, online chats, and discussion threads are some of the most popular methods.
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