Virginia offers a wealth of distance learning options ranging from high school courses offered through the state education office to advanced graduate degrees. With so many excellent schools to choose from in the Richmond area, why would Virginia residents seek distance-learning opportunities?
- Convenience: While there are many excellent colleges and universities in the Richmond area, if you’re seeking a specialized degree, you may need to drive beyond the area, or you may choose a school from the surrounding counties. Distance learning options enable you to stay at home in Richmond and take courses from any school in the Commonwealth. Best of all, you don’t have to drive to a campus after a long day at work – you simply log on from home.
- Flexible Scheduling: Although many colleges and universities offer evening classes, distance learning provides more flexibility. Some courses are offered during fixed times, or the instructor is available online during pre-designated virtual ‘office hours.’ Many online learning programs, however, allow students to log in at their convenience. You can complete your coursework on the weekends or evenings as your schedule permits.
- Save Money: While distance-learning programs aren’t inexpensive, there are some options such as Virtual Virginia, an online learning program for high school students that provides electives, foreign language instruction and AP courses for a nominal fee. It’s ideal for homeschooling students or for students who want to take courses that may not be offered at their local high school. For college and university students, you’ll certainly save the cost of gasoline and similar expenses driving to and from a campus.
Are there any drawbacks to taking distance learning courses?
- Some students find that they miss the face-to-face interaction of seat-based courses. Such students learn best in an interactive environment with the opportunity to ask the instructor questions and to listen firsthand to the responses given to other students. If you prefer such an environment, look for distance learning courses that encourage student interaction rather than depend upon reading and written assignments.
- Another drawback for some students is that online learning and distance-learning programs require a great deal of self-discipline. If you know you must be on campus and in your seat for a 7 pm. class, chances are good that you will make it a point to leave work on time and leave extra time to navigate that Richmond-area rush hour traffic. However, the flexibility of distance learning courses may tempt you to work a little later, go out for one more drink, or simply procrastinate from completing your coursework.
Know yourself, and know your limitations. There’s truly a wealth of online and distance learning opportunities in the Richmond area and throughout the Commonwealth. To take advantage of them, be prepared to commit the same amount of time and attention to your distance learning courses as you would to a traditional degree program. If you can do this, you have a good chance of succeeding.