Distance learning has enjoyed a huge boom in recent years, and even more so during the COVID-19 pandemic when many colleges all across the world were forced to close their doors and switch to online study.
What you might not realize, however, is that it’s not only purely academic subjects such as history and philosophy that you can become qualified in this way. You can also take degrees in more vocational subjects online, such as nursing. This is great news, because it opens up these qualifications to a broader range of people and enables you to level up your education no matter where you live or what other commitments you have. Here’s why you should consider taking your nursing degree online.
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What is studying for an online nursing degree like?
When you take a nursing program online, your learning is split into two main areas: academic modules and clinical experience. You will study the modules and complete your coursework using a virtual learning environment, and then do your residencies in person. That way you combine the convenience and flexibility of distance learning with the crucial hands-on experience gained during placements.
Studying any subject online involves a mixture of digital teaching and learning methods such as live or prerecorded lectures, virtual tutorials and seminars using Zoom or similar services, interactive quizzes and other exercises, online discussion boards, reading, and written assignments. You’ll be able to contact your professors via email, messaging, video chat or phone, and also interact with the other students on your course in similar ways.
The advantages of studying online
There are many benefits to be gained from taking your nursing degree online. Firstly there’s the extra flexibility it offers. Distance courses enable you to study at a time, place and pace that suits you and your personal circumstances. So, for example, if you want to keep working a part-time job while studying, or if you have children or elderly relatives to care for, virtual learning makes it much easier to fit your college work around those obligations.
This also means that you can tailor your study schedule to suit your learning preferences. Whether you’re an early bird who likes to get your college work done as soon as you wake up or a night owl who finds it easier to focus after dark, the choice is yours. Similarly, you can opt to study in the peace and quiet of a home office, the creative hustle and bustle of a coffee shop, or the atmospheric surroundings of your local library.
Another big advantage is that it broadens the number of institutions and courses that you can enroll on, because you’re no longer restricted to those that you can easily commute to or are happy to relocate to. This is true even when it comes to your clinical placements, as these can be arranged at a suitable location close to where you live. There are also no restrictions in terms of the level of nursing degree you can take online. You can study everything from a bachelor’s to an entry level masters program in nursing, and even full doctoral degrees.
Distance learning can even be cheaper – not only are tuition fees often lower, but you don’t need to worry about extra costs such as traveling to campus, parking, or finding accommodation during the semester. Finally, online study is a fantastic way to try out a wide variety of software and digital technologies. This doesn’t just help with your learning. Such technology will likely also be employed in many workplaces, so you can give yourself an advantage by getting used to them in a supportive environment.
Are there any disadvantages to studying online?
Many people worry that taking a degree online is seen as somehow less valid than studying on campus, however, this is simply not true. Although it might have been the case in the past, these days employers are well aware that distance courses are just as academically rigorous as campus programs and so don’t look down on them. This is especially true for nursing, because you will still be carrying out your clinical hours in person. Therefore, you don’t need to be concerned that an online degree is a disadvantage when job hunting.
Having said that, there are some differences between distance learning and traditional campus-based courses that you should be aware of. Firstly, you won’t have access to every aspect of college social life (such as sports games), or physical resources and buildings such as the library, gym or campus bars. However, this doesn’t tend to be much of an issue for older students, who are more focused on the educational side of college life. It’s important to remember that you will still be able to network with other students, you’ll just be doing so online.
Likewise you might also have to take more responsibility for your learning, as you won’t have your professors around checking up on you. This can actually be a plus for many people though, as you get more independence and also build important skills such as organization and time management. Plus, you’ll still have access to college support services when you need them.
Preparing for an online degree
If you have never studied online before, there are a few steps you can take to help get ready for your first semester. For example, you could sign up for a free short distance learning course in order to find out more about how they work and prepare yourself for this kind of study. You should also start reading around the subject in advance – contact your college for a reading list, or check out some online blogs and videos for suggestions. This helps to prime your brain for learning, and ensure you don’t feel out of your depth when lectures begin.
Another great idea is to set up a dedicated study space at home, where you can keep all your books, notes and stationery.
Try and choose somewhere that you won’t be interrupted or distracted, and make sure you have an ergonomic arrangement, good lighting, and a strong internet connection. Having the right learning environment can go a long way to helping you succeed!