Just like attending college at a traditional school by going to classes and seeing your professor and peers face to face on a weekly basis, online education has some specific personal and material requirements that you should be comfortable with meeting.
Personal Requirements for Online Education
It takes a certain type of personality to work in the isolation that comes with an online education. You will not be hobnobbing with your classmates, going out for lunches together, meeting at the library for study dates or sitting in the classroom, listening to your professor drone on about whatever subject he or she is expert at. Instead, you will be alone, day in and day out, with the only communication between you, your instructors and your classmates being of the electronic variety: e-mails, message board posts, and maybe the occasional online chat. This also requires that you be of a specific learning ability that does well picking up information in books or text that you read, as opposed to the type who learns best when taught orally. Keeping these things in mind, here are a few other personal requirements you should consider possessing or cultivating if you wish to pursue your education online:
Strong written communication skills: Since pretty much 100% of your communication with school officials, your teacher and your peers will be conducted online through writing, you should be comfortable in the medium. Having a fast typing speed does not matter as much so long as you are capable of expressing yourself fairly well and have good grammar and sentence structure. The good news is that if you are lacking in this area, you can always refine this skill by taking online courses geared toward improving writing.
Personal Organization Skills: This can be especially important if you are taking multiple classes online at the same time. Keeping track of schedules, due dates and reading assignments in an online class is different than in a classroom setting where you are likely to receive regular, verbal reminders from your instructors as to what assignments are due and when.
Enjoyment of reading and learning through reading: Since you will not likely receive lectures from your instructor as to your topic, you should be prepared to learn most of what you need in the class by reading – either the online syllabus or the required text for the course.
Technical Requirements for Online Education
Fear of high technical and technological requirements unfortunately keeps many people away from an online education who would probably do fine or excel at it. Most of the requirements, if you don’t have them personally, can be met by your local library computer if you do not mind studying there on occasion.
Basic familiarity with computers: You should understand the basics (or be willing to learn), of such things as browsing the Internet, sending and receiving e-mail, and creating documents with a word-processing software. As with the personal requirements of good written communication, this is something that can be cultivated early in an online education by taking courses on it if you need to.
A computer: Any computer purchased (or built) within this century should be strong enough to meet the technological demands that an online education has.
An internet connection: the faster the better, if at all possible, a high-speed, cable, DSL or satellite connection is best.