There’s a received wisdom that once you’re done with secondary school, a trip to a bricks and mortar university is the only next logical step.
With many workplaces not quite accepting those just out of the education system, the only option seems to be to jump right back into the fray, gaining a degree and soaking up the “student experience”.
But, what if you have no interest in the university lifestyle but still fancy gaining a degree? What if you’re holding down a job and can’t travel regularly to university?
Enter the distance learning degree, offering the chance to study from home and sidestep regular campus visits when working towards an impressive qualification.
While they were once finicky affairs – requiring sending off for course materials by post and waiting for ages before receiving any word back – the distance learning degree has grown into an efficient process thanks to the rise of the internet.
The future of education with distance learning
That’s right, an online degree is now a viable option as broadband speeds accelerate at the speed of a bullet train.
What’s more, the internet’s pool of resources has grown ever wider with each passing year. With Google Books, JSTOR, news sites and university library schemes to make online copies of rare documents available to the public, the internet is now a far cry away from Wikipedia in terms of verifiable sources.
Distance learning has grown even more appealing as the price of a university education mounts up – national newspaper The Telegraph estimated that the average student racks up at least £53,330 in debt after four years of education.
It’s a statistic that’ll come as no surprise to graduates. With tuition fees, accommodation, course materials, travel costs and the pricey books, a sizeable chunk of your student loan will be depleted instantly at the start of every month.
Cutting the cost of university education
Despite the understandable appeal of university life, the cost is simply becoming too much for some to handle. With distance learning a lot of these costs are phased out, meaning that although tuition fees still apply, your bank balance isn’t stretched in the long run.
There is, of course, the argument that a social life at university is half the fun, with many students forming lifelong connections in their four year tenure on campus.
But, again, with the help of the internet, socialising has become markedly easier off-campus. With instant messaging services like Skype advancing to ever-sophisticated levels, you could even set up video conferencing software to hold a virtual seminar, discussing your subject as though you were all in the same room together.
Indeed, the world of distance learning has matured immeasurably since the inception of the internet, and it could even be providing a better experience for those balancing their work and home life with their studies.
So, before you rule out university education, give distance learning a gander and you might just change your mind.