As the economy and job market shifts, many professionals may be thinking about how to level up their education. And although the future is uncertain, what going back to school looks like right now doesn’t have to be.
With physical distancing measures possibly continuing into the fall, many higher education institutions are pivoting to support students with online curriculums. For those who’ve never studied online before, this might seem like a strange new world. However, schools like Royal Roads University (RRU) have been offering online programming for years (if not decades), meaning they’re well positioned to guide you through this next stage of your studies.
If you’ve been wondering how to navigate going back to school in an online environment right now, you probably have a lot of questions about what it’s going to be like. So we spoke with the experts at RRU to give you all the info you need and bust some myths around learning online.
Myth: You won’t form as strong social connections
One of the first images people have when they think about college is the friends they’ll make in the classroom and on campus. So it makes sense if you’re hesitant about how many friends you’ll be able to make online.
Associate Professor Chaseten Remillard at Royal Road’s School of Communication and Culture says that, strangely, the online classroom can actually be a place where you get to know your classmates better, especially since on Zoom everyone’s virtual nametag is on display.
“There’s a connection there and it doesn’t necessarily happen in a traditional classroom when everyone’s facing forward. There isn’t the same amount of dynamism amongst the students as there is in an online environment,” says Remillard.
Myth: Classes aren’t as interactive online
Learning through a computer screen instead of in a physical classroom doesn’t mean you’ll have a less interactive experience, either.
Remillard says that thanks to technology these days, students learning online can actually engage with both the material and their classmates on a deeper level.
He explains that functions like the chatbox allow students to share links to websites and new stories that come to mind, while emojis provide a way for them to interact in a way that they wouldn’t be able to IRL.
“It can be much more interactive. People can put the emojis in with hands clapping, or a thumbs up — they’re not going to do that in a classroom,” says Remillard.
He also says that online learning allows for more of an even playing field for shyer students who might not feel like speaking up in a physical room.
“There’s a really interesting dynamic in the online classroom, that is maybe less hierarchical than a traditional classroom. Some people who are less willing to speak up in class are more likely to speak up in chat,” he says.
Myth: Your options are more limited
When you think about going back to school, you might be worried that you’ll have less flexibility when it comes to enrolment and cut-off dates. But at Royal Roads, you can take advantage of a rolling admission process, which means there’s usually room right up until the program starts.
Remillard explains that this admission process means that if students are finding themselves in limbo right now, not knowing where they’re going to be with their job and thinking of going back to school, “there’s likely still a program that’s still available to you to get into at Royal Roads. We don’t have those set deadlines for applications.”
Myth: It’s harder to stay motivated
We all know that it can be hard to stay on track with your studies, even when you have a routine set up to go into the classroom every day. But a common myth is that with all the distractions of the home environment, that online learning requires a lot of self-discipline.
Remillard explains that while online learning does require some good initial habits, once you have them in place, you can really thrive while taking advantage of the convenience online learning offers.
“You don’t have as big of disruption to your own daily routine, in a way. You can take your studies on your own terms, and you can also make sure that you have a much more sustainable lifestyle because you’re able to be close to your family and friends,” he explains.
Myth: It’s not a good time to go back to school
Let’s just come out and say it: it probably feels like an unsettling time to switch careers right now. But it could also actually be the perfect time to take advantage of this downtime and come out of the other side more prepared once things return to normal.
In fact, Remillard says that by entering a one-year degree completion program like Royal Road’s Bachelor of Arts in Professional Communication, students can come out in Fall 2021 with a brand new future ahead of them.
“All of a sudden instead of having a year where you’re waiting for the world to get started up again, you’re actually doing something towards your future that is meaningful to you,” he explains.
Royal Roads University is celebrating its 25th anniversary as a public university this year (not private — another common myth).
The university has been pioneering online learning in BC with applied and professional programs since 1995 and has over 5,000 students attending from around the globe. It prides itself on being a place to study where you’ll not only gain a deep knowledge of subject matter but an even deeper knowledge of self.
Can’t wait to put these busted myths in action and embark on your new career path? Learn more about the online learning environment via Royal Road University’s website today.