I’m a big advocate of distance education: it’s practically designed so that you can tailor it to your wants and needs if you’re willing to put in the effort. However, an education doesn’t help you at all if you’re not happy with it and if you’re not able to make the most of it.
There are three factors I can think of that would throw a nasty wrench into your online degree plan, but even each of those has ways you can work around it:
Lack of Self-Motivation
You are the kind of person who needs a boss hovering over you to remind you about deadlines. Online schools require a bit of being your own boss and handling your own schedules and timetables.
If you’re just out of high school, you may lack the maturity for this and you need the self-awareness to admit you’re not ready for this in your life just yet. Other students, on the other hand, may simply not be comfortable with it. They prefer strict routine and authority in their lives; there’s nothing wrong with this, and there’s no need to force the issue. The best education is an education you can be compatible with.
Can I fix it?
If you pin point your passions and your dreams, and find a major you’re so excited about you can’t contain yourself for, then self-motivation is hardly a problem. It’s easy when you want it bad.
Strong Interpersonal Learning Style
In other words: you know your learning style works best from working in groups. While online schools can offer a variety of resources from videos to texts to audio lectures, some of us learn far better in person with a group of people collaborating together. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this, but the nature of an online school doesn’t facilitate this type of learning well except in the form of online discussion. If this doesn’t cut it for you, then don’t cheat yourself: go to a college where you can get the most out of your education by appealing to your needs.
Can I fix it?
Yes, by finding study groups in your area not associated with your school, or by lucking out and finding classmates who actually live close enough to you to seek out for help.
High Social Needs
You’re a social person who is likely not going to be able socialization outside of school. If you know you’re the kind of person who is going to suffer from severe loneliness because you have trouble meeting people and don’t have anywhere else to do it in a way that satisfies you, then it’s not worth going to school online. You need to meet your other personal needs or you won’t get much learning done as stress and depression will take over your life instead.
Can I fix it?
If you’re capable of getting the social interaction you need outside of school/work hours, you should be more than fine. Just be careful and know yourself; there are people out there who bury themselves in too many obligations and forget to meet those needs. If you have a bad habit of that, it may be better to just go ahead and go to a place where you’ll get your needs anyway.
This is why the most important thing to do concerning making the decision to go to school online is to learn more about yourself, your person needs, and your learning style. I believe it is a rare situation you can’t make online school work well for you; it’s basically designed with flexibility and customization in mind. The best reason to avoid online schools then is being someone who is not willing or interested in self-discovery and customizing their own situation.