Is online education right for me?

Find out by reviewing our FAQs and taking the quiz.

Woman typing on computer

Online education offers convenience and, with a fully accredited school like Columbia College, quality, too.

But is it right for you? Some students prefer the independence of online courses; others find it uncomfortable. While you have greater freedom of scheduling, online courses do require more self-discipline than on-campus courses.

Michele Smolik, director of instructional technology at Columbia College, has nearly ten years experience supporting students and faculty in online learning environments at Columbia College, the University of Missouri and for the state of Missouri.

"I think online schooling is a great alternative for many individuals," said Smolik. "You don't have to commute to a physical campus and can access your courses from anywhere. It is ideal for working adults who have taken some courses through the traditional system and now want to complete a bachelor's or a graduate degree without taking any time off work.

"At the same time, online education is not for everyone -- you have to have a certain level of maturity and self-motivation, since you have to juggle coursework with job and family responsibilities. It demands a great deal of individualized work and you have to manage your schedule to meet class requirements rather than attend at a specific time of the week. "

Smolik added that an online degree from Columbia College is backed by the school’s history and accreditation, and leaves no question about the quality of education you will receive or how it will be viewed by potential employers.

Reviewing our FAQs then taking a demo and self-assessment quiz may help decide if online education will work for you.

Q: What hardware or software do I need to take a Columbia College online course?

A: 512+ MB RAM, 60+ GB hard drive, 56 K modem or NIC (10/100 BASE-T Ethernet), Windows 7, XP or Vista operating system (OS 10.0 or higher for a Mac). Read more about the technology requirements.

Q: What courses and degrees does Columbia College offer?

A: Choose from 19 online degrees including three graduate degrees and more than 800 online classes each session.

Q: When are online courses offered?

A: Online courses at Columbia College are asynchronous – they do not meet at specific scheduled times – but still follow a weekly timeline for assignments which can be turned in anytime during that week. Five eight-week sessions a year begin in January, March, June, August and October.

Q: How time-consuming are online classes?

A: Online courses require at least as much time as on-campus courses. Successful online students report having spent more time studying and completing coursework. Time management is important for a student’s success.

Q: Will I have regular assignments, deadlines and tests?

A: Yes. Online courses at Columbia College use a learning management system called Desire2Learn, or D2L. Among D2L's many attributes are a robust content area that contains a variety of tools to facilitate learning; a week-by-week checklist that keeps you current on assignments, deadlines and tests; links to Stafford Library and other resources relevant to the course.

You will be expected to complete readings in paper textbooks. Most courses contain additional activities (videos, podcasts, WebQuests) that build on these readings. Instead of handing in an essay or a lab report, you will simply upload it to the course dropbox. You can post virtually any type of file for an assignment in D2L's dropbox, and your instructor will then evaluate and comment on it. Tests may be objective, short answer or essay – it depends on the course and the instructor.

Q: Will I be able to talk to my instructor? To my fellow students?

A: Yes. You will regularly communicate with your instructor and other students using the course discussion forums. You are expected to communicate with your instructor, read and respond thoughtfully to your fellow students’ postings. You can also send your fellow students instant messages through D2L's pager.

It's important to remember that interaction with your instructor is online – not remote – and online students are as likely to develop a good relationship with their instructor as in-seat students.