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Your Future in Distance Education

Although sometimes considered to be the poorer cousin of regular college programmes, distance learning comes as a blessing to students who want to study further while continuing with jobs or who might not be able to attend a full-time course for various reasons.

The most frequent query from students is related to the confusion over the value of a distance learning programme. The answer to this totally depends on the student. Some students can make the most out of a distance learning programme, but there are also others who are not comfortable with this pattern. Here we will discuss the pros and cons of distance learning/ distance education programmes and help you decide if you should go for it:

Disadvantages of Studying through Distance Learning:

1.No Direct Contact with faculty: There isn’t any fun if you don’t have a teacher you can make fun of! On a serious note, lack of personal interaction with teachers often affects the learning curve for some students. This is one major disadvantage of distance learning. Flipping through voluminous books with no mentor to guide you can be overwhelming for some students.

2.Overdependence on Technology: Some distance learning programmes especially online courses require access to internet. Unless you are comfortable with this medium, you will find studying and interacting with your faculty online difficult.

3.Lack of Discipline: Since you don’t have a teacher standing on top of your head, reminding you of deadlines, asking for your assignments, there are chances that you will not take a distance learning programme seriously. You need to be mature and disciplined to take full advantage of a distance learning programme. 

4.It can get Lonely: Even if you’re in a virtual classroom that is full of students, the lack of personal interaction might make you feel detached and lonely. This can be solved as you get more comfortable with using the internet.

5.Not All Courses are Available/ Taught: Another major disadvantage of distance learning is that not all courses can be taught online. For example, subjects like Medicine and Engineering can’t be taught online or through distance learning since practical classes, experiments etc. can’t possibly be conducted over the internet! Some things, you’ve got to do yourself!

6.Not Valued by all Employers: No matter how good the university/college from where you pursued your distance learning programme, some employers will always prefer a candidate who has pursued a regular programme over you. 

(Also read: Top Universities for Distance Learning in India)

There are two sides to every coin and here the advantages certainly outweigh the disadvantages:

Advantages of Studying through Distance Learning:

1.It's Flexible:  You can earn and study at the same time! Flexibility is the biggest advantage of distance learning courses. This stands true especially if you are a working professional. Not everyone has the luxury of taking their own time to finish their studies. For those who had to take a break from studies to start working, such courses are a boon and provide the opportunity to pursue higher education.

2.Saves Time & Energy: You save up a lot of time and energy on commuting. You can stay in Pune and pursue a course that is available in Bangalore. Or you might be based out of a remote village or town which does not have enough options for higher studies. Distance learning courses eliminate these obstacles. 

3.Study at your own Pace: Not everyone has the same pace of learning. Some students pick up things fast, others need time to grasp a concept. One of the biggest advantages of distance learning is that you can study at a pace that is comfortable for you. 

4. Saves Money: These courses are almost always cheaper as compared to their on-campus counter-parts. You also cut down on the costs incurred while commuting etc.

5.Convenient: You can submit your assignment with the click of a button or simply drop it off at a post-office! It’s sometimes as simple as that!

6. 24X7 Access to Study Material & fellow Students: This is the best way to study if you are comfortable with internet and technology. You can access your study material online whenever you want and also clear doubts, exchange views and discuss with your virtual class-mates! 

7.Study any Topic You Want: Since you‘d already have all your books/online study material with you, you can pick up any topic/chapter that interests you and tackle that first! This way your interest in the subject is sustained.

Various studies have shown that distance learning programmes can be as efficient and valuable as regular classroom programmes sometimes even better! Sometimes the learning material for distance learning programmes by certain universities {eg: Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU)} can be way superior to that of a regular classroom course. So as a student, you need to decide if distance learning programme suits your personality and temperament!

In a country like India, where a basic graduation degree is mandatory to get a decent job, where the number of aspiring students outnumber the number of college seats available by an obscenely high number, distance learning programmes is the choice of many.