By: Ken Austin
There are all kinds of college programs that are available today for those seeking higher education and degrees in a wide variety of fields.
The problem often lies in finding the type of education that is appropriate for your specific needs. We all learn best through different methods and identifying your learning method is a great way to understand what learning environment will work best for you.
The common learning environments for college level studies are the following: community colleges, universities, and online or distance learning opportunities. Community colleges tend to offer smaller classrooms with more discussion-oriented styles of learning and discourse. Universities tend to be more lecture oriented while distance and online learning opportunities are quite often self-directed learning opportunities that require a great deal of discipline in order to be successful.
When trying to identify the college that will work best for you, you should keep in mind your personal learning style. Beyond that you should also consider the type of environment you expect from your college education and the amount of time you wish to devote to the pursuit of your education and degree. Some people find that university life is far too distracting while others find that the solitude of online and distance learning is a distraction in and of itself.
You will find all kinds of cultural opportunities at a university that you will not find through home studies or on the community college level. For some students, these opportunities are icing on the cake and an important part of the learning experience as you delve into other cultures, art, music, and history. Others find these opportunities to be far too plentiful and far too distracting for their study needs. Whichever student you tend to be will make a huge difference in the best situation for your learning needs.
Another important consideration is housing. Most universities have ample on campus housing for their students while a few campuses experience on campus housing shortages and rely on housing that is located in and around the college area in order to fill in the gaps. Some universities will even offer limiting housing opportunities to students who have spouses and children.
While housing on community college is seen, particularly in rural areas where there is limited housing available in and around the schools, these are more often the exception rather than the rule. Most community colleges are largely commuter campuses with very limited if any housing opportunities. Online and distance learning programs offer no housing to students.
Another concern that most also be considered carefully is the distance between classes and any special needs you may have. Universities tend to be large and spread out. It is quite possible to need to get from one end of campus to another (a mile or more in some cases) with a 10-minute window in which to get it done. For students with special needs or physical disabilities this can be quite problematic, especially on days of inclimate weather.
Community colleges tend to have smaller campuses, which mean less real estate to cover in between classes. Online and distance learning classes go with you wherever you have access to a computer. This means that they are as portable as you need them to be if you have your own laptop and wireless Internet access.
You must consider all these things and so much more when narrowing down your college choices. Do you really want to take the personal responsibility required in order to succeed in online and distant learning courses? Do you want to be limited by the meager offerings of coursework available at the community college level? Is it worth it to you to pay the high price involved in a university education? These are all questions that you need to consider carefully before making the decision as to which college environment is the most desirable for you.