Is Online Learning Right for You?

Barry Lenson

Is Online Learning Right for You?

Is Online Learning Right for You?A high school student came up to me at a college fair this month and said, “My mom lost her job last year and we don’t have enough money for me to start out at a high-ticket regular college. Online learning looks like a good option, because I have to start working a job as soon as I graduate high school. But what does it take to make online college work?”

That’s a good question. Because no mistake about it, certain skills, attitudes and resources are needed to be an effective online learner. (The same could be said of classroom learners too.) Let’s see what they are . . .


  • A modern, stable computer.
  • A strong and reliable Internet connection.
  • A reliable way to back up work, such as an external hard drive or a remote backup service.
  • A quiet area, separated from family areas, where you can take online college courses.
  • At least one hour available daily to complete coursework for each online course.
  • A schedule that allows you sufficient sleep and rest.

Personal Abilities and Traits

  • Motivation and ambition.
  • Discipline to log on and do your coursework daily.
  • Independence, because no one will be looking over your shoulder.
  • A willingness to ask questions from course instructors.
  • Ability to accept and utilize constructive feedback.

Things You Don’t Need 

  • A car so you can commute to campus.
  • A new wardrobe.
  • A fridge or other dorm furnishings.
  • A meal plan.

A support network of friends and family members who support your educational goals can help, too. But if you have the traits outlined above, chances are you have what it takes to take online courses successfully.

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