When you're applying for a job, whether it's a position within your current workplace or a completely new direction, the importance of having the right qualifications and skills can't be underestimated. Although a qualification won't necessarily guarantee your success, it'll be one of the first things employers look at and will often be a key topic during the interview.
However, sometimes taking the course you want would involve spending a few years living on the other side of the country, a disruption that can put people off starting it in the first place. One solution to this is distance learning, something that was once a somewhat slow and clunky process but has benefited greatly from the advent of the internet.
Modern connectivity has allowed all sorts of advances to be made in distance learning, from the ability to attend lectures virtually to accessing course notes and other learning materials online. This means that more institutions than ever are offering courses to non-campus students, and there are even non-university dedicated distance learning providers who specialise in offering education to people wherever they are.
Of course, distance learning has its downsides too when compared to attending a course at university. Below are a few of the advantages and disadvantages - hopefully this will help you to make a good decision about whether it's the right course for you.
- Cost. Completing a distance learning course is normally much cheaper than a conventional one - not to mention that you can do it at home without the need to commute or rent a place in a different city.
- Flexibility. You can do your work almost anywhere and at any time, as long as you have access to a computer and internet connection. With no need to attend classes, you are free to build a schedule of learning that suits your day-to-day life.
- Wide range of choices. A large number of universities now offer distance learning courses - although, as with regular courses, you may need to meet certain requirements to get on one. Alternatively, many non-university providers will accept students without any prerequisites.
- Keep your job. With traditional courses, it's usually not feasible to work a day job while studying. Distance learning allows you to keep your job and study in your free time - in fact, your employer may even pay towards the cost of the course, if it will help you to progress in your job.
- Less direct contact with tutors. You may never physically meet your tutors, which can be off-putting to some people. However, you may be able to arrange one-to-one time through Skype or a similar service.
- Greater need for self-discipline. With great freedom comes great responsibility, and you alone will determine how much time you spend studying. Ensure you have the time and dedication for distance learning before starting a course.
- No social interaction. For some people, the social life of university is a big part of the whole experience, although this may not matter as much if you have a job while completing your course.