Are you bummed about online college? Maybe skeptical that it’s more than a “second-best” alternative to “the real thing”?
I’m here to challenge your assumed answers!
In our last blogpost, we debunked four myths about online college.
Now it’s time to really dig into what makes online college great.
Doing college online is not a “second-best” option. In fact, it’s a better option than traditional college in a lot of ways.
There are a number of special skills that you will sharpen as an online student that you may not develop in a traditional college structure.
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We’re going to talk about three of them here.
Quickly and Effectively Master Complicated Information
A self-driven college education will require you to teach yourself in a lot of cases. In order to do that, you must know what you don’t already know. (It’s a dizzying bit of circular reasoning, I know.)
Online students have the opportunity to sharpen the skill of learning complex things quickly and effectively. They often must do research and study unsupervised, helping them develop the ability to pursue mastery of things at their own pace.
When you self-direct your education, you have to just “figure it out” at times. You won’t get a lot of hand-holding and step-by-step instructions. It’s in this challenging environment that you will learn how to process and master complex problems and come up with creative solutions.
No matter where your future career takes you, this skill will help you stand out from the average pack.
Community and friendships just kind of “happen” at traditional colleges. There’s a physical location that brings people together and thus communities and relationships form. But incidental community rarely results in high-quality community.
Online college offers no such physical location. If you don’t want to do college from a proverbial island (please don’t do college from a proverbial island) then you need to know how to intentionally build community.
Online students have to learn this by necessity but it will be a skill they can carry into the rest of their lives. Building community involves things like intentionality, curiosity, finding common ground and shared experience, and showing genuine interest in others. These things will serve you in future social endeavors, whether online or in-person.
Online college can be addicting.
Well, at least it can be tempting to obsessively study and never find time for anything else.
Traditional college students may face this temptation too but I think it’s something that online students struggle with particularly. Doing school from home, the lines between life and school begin to blur.
When that happens, it’s time to sharpen the skill of resting well.
And yes, it is a skill.
It’s not just lying on the couch watching a show or playing a game on your phone. Effective rest is the process of restoring energy and preparing your mind and body for more creation and productivity.
Like building community, online college students may find they learn this skill by necessity. Learning to rest well and effectively recharge is a skill that will pay big dividends for the rest of your life. (Get it, the rest of…ok, nevermind.)
Sharpen Your Special Skills
So the next time you’re tempted to discount your hard work and write it off as “just” online school, remember this: you’re developing skills that may not have been on your radar if you went the way most people go. You’re learning to quickly and effectively master complicated information, build intentional community, and rest well.
Those skills will pay dividends. And you’ll owe a lot of that skill-building to the unique structure of your self-directed learning.
Need more help learning the skills that you’ll actually need in life without giving up on the bachelor’s degree? You can do both those things with Ascend, the college program that sets you ahead and helps you get on the right path. Applications are closing soon!
Jace Bower is the Marketing Coordinator for Unbound. An Unbound alumnus, he has experienced firsthand the powerful advantages of doing college differently and participating in an intentional community. Jace graduated with his bachelor’s degree in History in 2016 and has worked in restaurant management and marketing since then. He also served on the Unbound Student Cabinet in 2019.
The author of two books and a semi-regular blogger, Jace can often be found doing something with words. When he’s not, chances are he’s reading about theology, listening to music, or playing pool or tennis with his wife Shannon in their Virginia home.