Online or On-Campus Classes: 3 Questions to Ask Yourself
May 13th, 2019
By Katelyn Elrod
In the digital age, going back to school doesn’t have to mean squeezing classes between work commitments and softball games. At MACU, we offer online and evening classes that are perfect for busy adults, but we know it can still be difficult to choose the best option. Ask yourself these three questions to help make the decision between taking classes online or on-campus:
What is your schedule like?
This is the big question. It’s not the only question, but it’s a big one, and its answer is often the deciding factor for a person choosing between online and on-ground education. Adult students, whether they work in a place of business or work tirelessly at home taking care of a family, often have schedules that seem as unbendable as five-year-old taffy.
Meetings and carpools can contribute to pretty restrictive schedules that make earning a degree seem impossible. Fortunately, both online and on-campus classes can work around a packed schedule. If your evenings are booked with work, family, or social commitments, online classes may be the winning choice for you since you can do your readings, discussion posts, and assignments at any time you please. Kids knocked out during an after-school nap at 3:30? Sounds like a great time to write that three-page paper.
If your evenings have a little wiggle room, you may want to consider taking some or all of your classes on-campus in the evening. At MACU, evening classes meet once per week, giving you the opportunity to soak in some knowledge in-person without having to drive to campus multiple weekdays. If you have one night per week free, check to see if any classes you need are available during that time slot. Even just taking a few of your required courses in the evening could shake up the path to your degree, adding a little excitement and variation.
What is your learning style?
Learning isn’t a formula, and no two people learn the exact same way. Some comprehend material better when they read it in a book, and some can’t truly absorb information unless they hear it spoken aloud. Some study through reading notes aloud, while some study through writing and rewriting (and maybe rewriting again). No method of learning makes you more or less smart than another learner—it just makes you unique.
With modern technology, both online and on-campus classes are able to integrate various learning strategies by incorporating auditory, visual, textual, and hands-on components. Many assume that online classes solely involve reading, taking quizzes, and writing essays, but online classes have the capacity for so much more. At MACU, all online courses involve peer-to-peer discussion, and most classes include some form of video content, making online classes a good option for any kind of learner.
Though online classes are now able to serve many types of learners, on-campus evening classes still may be a more ideal option for learners who thrive on in-person interaction and auditory learning. Online professors are typically very attentive to answering questions in email or on discussion threads, but it can be helpful to have an in-person dialogue with your instructor about a piece of material with which you are struggling. In addition, on-campus courses allow you to personally interact with other students and bounce ideas off one another in conversation, which can boost your comprehension of a subject.
Not sure of your learning preference? Take the free VARK quiz.
What is your attitude toward technology?
Before reading this section, know this: you do not need to be already technology savvy in order to take classes online. Some people are required to do complex tasks on computers every day while others only interact with computers as a last resort. Individuals in either camp, or in any camp in between, can flourish in online courses. Competence in technology isn’t a determiner for whether or not you should try online classes, but a willingness to learn new computer skills is one.
At MACU, functioning in an online class does not require NASA-level technology abilities, but it does require the use of D2L, which is a browser-based learning management system, a word processor, and, sometimes, programs that allow you to create slideshows and spreadsheets. If you do not know how to use these things, never fear! MACU provides detailed video tutorials on how to use D2L, and the internet is rife with video tutorials on using pretty much every computer program that exists. As long as you are committed to learning the necessary computer skills, you will be A-OK in online classes.
If you are nervous about doing everything online, evening classes may be ideal for you. Don’t get me wrong—you will still have to rely on your computer for many things if you take evening classes and will likely need to learn competence in everything listed above. However, evening classes give you the opportunity to get help in person, and you may have less assignments and readings online. Either way, you will leave college with a greater proficiency in operating a computer, and in today’s world, that’s never a bad thing!
For more information about enrolling in Mid-America Christian University’s online or evening classes through our College of Adult and Graduate Studies, visit programs.macu.edu.