Online schooling is still a pretty new thing, although distance learning has been around a long time in the form of correspondence courses. It sounds nice, being able to learn at home, on your own time, but there’s always that question lurking. Is online schooling actually worth it or is it a waste of time and money?

That depends on three factors. You, the teachers, and the school.

Problems with Online Schools

The problem with online schools is that not all of them do a very good job of teaching whatever it is they claim to teach. They send a bit of information your way, expect you to learn it, but it’s maybe not enough for whatever reason. Not enough for you to work in whatever field you wanted to get the education for, perhaps.

The reason for this, in part, is that it’s so easy to set up an online school. Set up a website, call it a school, provide some learning material, and start charging for it. It can look good on the surface without really benefiting students all that much.

Some have dismal rates of completion. Just imagine paying thousands of dollars toward your education and then not finishing it. It’s not that uncommon for some online schools. Not that uncommon for regular colleges either, of course.

The Students

If you decide to be a student at an online school, you have to motivate yourself much more so than you would at a school you have to attend physically. Many are self paced, and so you decide when you study. It’s rather like having nothing but homework, although there may be scheduled chats or lectures you can choose to attend.

That’s a problem if you don’t do well with setting your own deadlines and due dates. It’s all too easy to procrastinate.

Some students don’t take online schooling seriously. They figure it’s somehow going to be easier than a school they have to attend physically. This isn’t necessarily true, and it’s a poor thought to have for any education you want to get. Online schools can be just as challenging and sometimes even more challenging than the options you have locally for the particular type of education. Take a look and compare what the particular schools you’re considering expect of you as a student in order to graduate.

The Teachers

Any good online schooling will give you access to a teacher if you need it. This may be through email, chat or online forums, possibly even by phone. You want teachers who are highly knowledgeable about whatever they’re teaching. If you’re learning a job skill, for example, you want teachers involved who have actually worked in that job.

Online schools may or may not supply that kind of teacher. Check with them to see if they have what you’re after.

Take a look at the certificate programs Career Step offers and see if one is for you.