It's no big secret that there's a pretty incredible variety of courses one can do via distance learning. Everything from weekend certificates through to full fledged doctoral PhD's can be obtained online from a range of quality institutions without the learner ever having to set foot on campus or sleep (sorry, sit,) through a live lecture.
Naturally it can be incredibly compelling to enrol in that full degree programme that's going to completely change your life and open up your new career but the more prudent would be student takes a moment to think it through. Full on University level courses are a huge commitment both in time and money and the sad truth is that relatively few people have an abundance of both. Either one has plenty of time, but financially feels a bit light in the pocket book or they have money in abundance but getting it takes up much of their time.
Depending on where you study, a typical undergraduate programme will take you three years for one obtained from an English institution. Many countries, such as the USA and Scotland insist on four year university programmes for bachelors degrees. And this is presuming you will be studying full time – on average 35 hours a week. For many distance learners, this is simply not doable meaning that part time study is preferred.
Then consider this: a part time degree requries the same amount of study as a full time one, just done over a long calendar period. Your three year degree programme becomes six years which is a huge chunk of a persons life to devote to anything to which they are not truly committed.
And this presumes the University even accepts the student onto the course: As higher education becomes more commercialized rightly or wrongly, there is pressure on Insitutions only to admit students that they can be sure will pass their course so as to preserve their pass rates. As such they will often look for evidence of prior training and ability in a field – a science degree will want to see high school science marks for example, or evidence of the ability gained another way.
Another reality we often find from talking to especially mature students is that, removed from an academic environment sometimes for decades it can be a struggle getting back into the habit and discipline of studying, if indeed the student ever had it all during their school days.
This is why many aspiring distance learners stand to benefit so much more by beginning their distance learning with a shorter course or diploma. Only the most sadistic of swimming teachers begins by throwing entirely new students in at the deep end of the pool. And in the same way it is best to start small and get used to the requirements and standards of academic study, rather than throw yourself in at the deep end of a full honours degree only to flail about hopelessly out of your depth.
Many small bricks make up a big wall. If you intend to do great things, be willing to start with the little ones.