When you think of distance learning it is probably something that you associate with mature students. People with families and mortgages who are unable to just up sticks and head off to attend university. As an option, distance learning is still a great one for those mature students who want to get a degree without having to ‘go to uni.’ But, is it time for other Sixth Form college leavers to look into the benefits of distance learning as a genuine alternative to traditional university?
Let’s face it, going to university is expensive, and unless you have tens of thousands of pounds saved up, chances are you are going to have to get into debt to cover the cost of tuition. Despite the amount of students doing exactly that making it seem normal to graduate with huge debts, surely any way to avoid this has to be worth considering.
The first, and most obvious bonus of looking at distance learning as an option is that you won’t pay as much in fees.
Think about how online shopping has decimated the high street, with a lack of shops meaning lower overheads and therefore cheaper prices for shoppers, In many ways, this same model works for distance learning. For students this means cheaper fees as well as cutting out the need to leave home and pay for accommodation in a strange new city.
Plus, as with traditional university, you can always take a gap year to earn some extra money or even head out and gain some new experiences before continuing your studies.
While for some, the ‘adventure’ of going to university is all part of the experience, for others the idea of leaving home can seem daunting. Distance learning may not just save money on rents and fees, but may also help cut down on such anxieties, allowing you to get on with your studies.
Of course, when it comes to the studies themselves there is a difference. In order to succeed in distance learning you will need to be motivated. Without a tutor constantly badgering you about deadlines you will need to make sure you are dedicated and organised enough to look after your own workload.
That being said, the workplace won’t provide you with a constant reminder that a deadline is coming up – so why not get used to being self-sufficient now? It certainly won’t hurt your C.V. to point it out either!
Your studies will come to you at home, and are delivered online, on DVDs, and (of course) in books, with support provided by online communities of other students and contact with tutors. The benefit here is that you get more choice over when you want to study. Not a morning person? Not a problem – just start your studies when it suits you. Of course, distance learning also allows you flexibility to fit your study around other commitments – such as part-time employment to help pay those fees!
With a more flexible approach than traditional university, plus a more cost-effective way of earning your degree, perhaps it is time that distance learning was seen as more than just something for mature students?