Is online learning right for you?

Director, Affordable Learning Initiatives
Wednesday, April 5, 2017 - 9:15am (updated Wednesday, August 2, 2017 - 10:40am)
online learning

Going back to college or starting college classes for the first time is a big step. Online classes can help make that step fit into your busy lifestyle by offering the flexibility to take classes while working a full-time job, raising a family, or living far from the degree-granting institution. This doesn’t mean that online classes are an “easy” option, and online classes are not the best fit for everybody. Some people really enjoy that face-to-face interaction with an instructor or the accountability of having to show up in a classroom at the same time every week. But if you are the type of person who has excellent time management skills and intrinsic motivation to complete a degree, online courses and degrees could be a good fit for you.

How can you tell if online learning will be a good fit for you?

Try these online readiness tools to assess if online learning would be an appropriate method of delivery for your college courses:

Ohio State University -

California Community Colleges -

Penn State University -

Michigan Colleges Online -

Many other colleges and universities have online readiness tools available on their websites. If there is a specific institution in which you are interested, you might want to check its website to see if there is an online readiness tool specific to that institution. It could have specific information about which learning management system the school uses or how it handles orientation and testing.

What should I consider before signing up for an online program?

Higher education is an investment. There are several things to consider before making a financial commitment to an online learning program:

  • Is your technology current? What will you need to do to ensure you will be able to participate fully in the class and online discussions?
  • What are some must-have tools you’ll need to purchase?
  • Decide whether you can stay organized enough for an online course. Can you set aside time each week for reading and studying for an online course?
  • Experiment with free online courses before you pursue a degree. Be sure to check the website of the institution in which you are interested  to see if it has anything available. This will give you the best idea of what to expect.

What if online learning isn’t a good fit?

Online learning might not be right for you if:

  1. You aren’t self-disciplined.
  2. Time management isn’t your strength. Be honest, are you a procrastinator? Are you able to devote time to academic studies even if no one is looking over your shoulder making sure you are doing it?
  3. Face-to-face time with instructors is crucial to your learning. Do you thrive on face-to-face discussions and being in the same classroom with your peers?

If online learning isn’t the answer for you, many colleges and universities offer other flexible options such as hybrid classes, night classes and satellite campuses.

Yes, I want to try online learning. Now what?

Once you have determined that online learning is a good fit for your learning style and that you have enough time to devote to online academic work, the OhioLearns catalog is a great place to take the next step. 

OhioLearns is the one-stop site for anyone interested in college-level distance or e-learning in Ohio, now listing more than 500 degrees and certificate programs that are 100 percent online, as well as more than 3,000 courses. If you are interested in furthering your education, changing careers, or moving ahead in your current position by taking a distance-learning course or enrolling in a distance-learning degree or certificate program, check out OhioLearns.