This article explores the intricacies of self-paced online learning regardless of your gender, status or age. It discusses challenges like time management and motivation, offers strategies for balancing study with family and work, including sharing success stories of women in online learning.
The piece also advises on selecting the right online program, and looks at current trends in online education.
It underscores the empowerment and flexibility that self-paced learning offers to people balancing education with life’s demands.
Maybe we should have paid more attention… but I will leave any discussion about the current education system for another time.
Making use of Flexibility in Education
Where once self-paced learning was only found in the back pages of newspapers and magazine ads, it is now being increasingly embraced because of its online ease of access and flexibility.
Particularly, home schooling, for adult learners, and perhaps, even more so for women juggling a myriad of roles.
This education model allows you to learn at beat of your own drum, empowering yourself, on your terms, whether it’s in the quiet hours before dawn or in the stolen moments of a busy evening.
Self-paced online education is a tailored solution to the demands of life, offering empowerment through learning that fits into the unique lifestyles of adult learners.
The Realities of Self-Paced Learning
Time Management Strategies.
I have memories of my mother, when after dinner was finished, the dishes cleaned and put away (our job), she took over the dining table with patterns and books, getting busy with her dress making course.
She would still be there long after the T.V. had been turned off and us kids were in bed. Silently working away on her course.
These days doing a course like that would probably include some auto-cad software downloaded onto a computer, then, once you have worked out what you need to do, and the patterns are drawn up transfer the files to a printer ready to be cut out.
Time management is one thing that doesn’t change. You need to self-regulate your study schedules, and for most people it is something that comes a distant last to your other responsibilities.
This can lead to your motivation to engage with coursework waning, unlike the external structure of traditional classes. However, as they say, being consistent is one way to overcome procrastination.
Nobody has ever said it is easy. For the “Me time” needed, you have to transform the unproductive time in your life, watching T.V. fooling around on social media, etc and replace them with something more important.
Like getting the skills need to have a better job, build a business, be able to afford to go on a decent holiday.
Facing up to these realities is the first step in successfully managing them.
Strategies for Success:
Balancing Study and Family.
Achieving a balance between studies, family, and work demands need not be the mental nightmare you imagine it to be.
I needed to attend night classes twice a week to gain further qualifications to advance my career.
So, back then it was a matter of getting home without breaking speed limits, and receiving a photo in the mail, tidy myself up, grab a bite to eat, and rush out of the house again and be on my way to night school.
Back then online courses were only just evolving and there were no other higher learning options, unlike now!
So, communicating with your nearest and dearest about your educational goals to garner their support is important. The last thing you need is an unsupportive partner criticizing your newly adopted habits.
Particularly, when on a Sunday you have your nose buried in some study, or preparing for an exam and the family wants to go to the beach.
I could always be sweet talked into going out though!
Other methods of integrating study into your daily life can be by utilizing small pockets of time effectively, lunch hours at work for example, can make a substantial difference.
The important thing to remember is, this will not go on for forever and once done, you can move ahead in your career, or begin a totally new one if that was your intention.
Once you have done it a few times it settles into a routine, and becomes second nature to you.
In my mothers case, I think it took her about 6 months to complete her course. For me it took about 3 years!
Stories of Success
Success Stories in Online Learning.
Like me, I am sure you have come across numerous stories of achievement like the single mother of 4 kids, who pursued her degree while managing her family and work.
Although stories like that pop up from time to time, no body mentions the the woman or man who did a short course or series of short courses, and went from low paid employee to self employed, or advanced to a higher paying job that enabled them to give their family a better quality of life.
I review a few course providers on this site, but I don’t do universities for quite a few reasons.
- High Dropout rates.
- 6months+ on point instructor led courses (Zoom calls), are becoming more popular and have high completion rates.
- Short on point (1-3 months), courses let you complete them in your own time without the need for an instructor, but offer tutorial support if you need it, have been and are still popular.
- Then there is the expense of University courses.
There are numerous stories on this site of people who have succeeded at various things through self teaching. They include:
- A Scuba Diver becoming a writer. She is now the go to freelancer for PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors. She also does work for insurance companies.
- A Bank manager becoming a bakery owner. He had never made anything more than a toasted sandwich.
- A School principal becoming a landscaper. YEP! I wondered too! But he told me it was the best move he had ever made.
Choosing the Right Program:
How to Select Online Colleges.
Anywhere on the internet you will generic statements like, “Selecting the right self-paced online program is crucial…yada, yada…” and they continue on to state the obvious…
Accreditation’s, support services, course structure, career counseling. etc; etc;.
What is crucial, is that you read the company’s policies. refund policies, and course completion times. If the course is instructor led, you will most likely have to contact them and make sure they have course presentations in your time zone.
Then there are things like payment terms, financing, and end of course career support.
The course structure and content relevance is also important, sometimes though we may have to go over old ground to complete a course, so staying positive is important.
Any online course will have student reviews somewhere online.
For Tech courses Course Report is a good resource. For other courses check out Trust Pilot, or the Better Business Bureau.
Related article here:
I don’t place much value in Quora or Reddit as there is usually a lot of self promotion going on in those sites.
As I mentioned above, get a good understanding of the company’s policies you’re researching , then take a look at the one, two and 3 star reviews.
Having knowledge of the company’s policies you will know whether or not a one or two star rating was deserved. Some I have seen bore no relevance to the reason for the poor review.
When you see bad reviews that are totally wrong mark the approval star rating a little higher.
An example below.
Took Manual Qa class from Careerist. Advisor promised me that if I don’t get job within 30 days after I finish the course ,I would get 100% money-back guarantee. I finished my course on time and they couldn’t find me job interview so I called the customer service to request money back but it got denied saying the advisor was wrong 😑. Stay away big fraud.
It is advertised on the Careerist site as 12 months after completion, and they don’t find you the jobs, they give you leads, but it is up to the student to do the applications.
Students also undergo a considerable amount of training in job searching as well. That review smacked of the old parable… Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and he can feed himself for life…
Other things to look for are, 2 or 3 word comments in the 4 and 5 star reviews. Ignore them they are meaningless.
The three star reviews are generally honest and often do highlight some problems the student had.
The Future of Learning.
The Future of Self-Paced Learning
The trend in online learning is increasing all the time. Parents with a poor perception of government schooling systems, divisive educational policies, and poor learning outcomes are moving to home schooling.
Adult learners are seeking short on point courses to give them the skills they need to move into better paid jobs.
Since Covid, people have realized the opportunities and taken advantage of them to move into other careers or learn some skill to add to their existing skills.
More recently interactive technologies such as Zoom have become more prevalent in skills-based training (particularly in tech).
Networking on sites like LinkedIn is becoming more professional as LinkedIn updates its algorithms, and career advisors learn how to get the most from LinkedIn to pass on to their students.
Universities will always have the top accreditation’s, but, short on point courses targeting areas of skill shortages, are becoming the go to option for employers and students.
In the ever evolving technology scene employers can’t wait 4 years for someone to complete university, then train them up further in an internship using the latest technologies before the student can start paying their way.
The elephant in the room with universities of course is their costs. They are competing in a market where someone can complete a course in 6 months and walk into a 6 figure job, with or without a degree, and without a five figure debt+ hanging over their head.
All the employer wants to know is if you can do what is being asked of you. If you can and you look like a good fit for the company your hired.
Plus, you are able to pay for any further courses from your earnings, without being stuck in a 3 or 4 year course earning a pittance doing part time work and not keeping up with the latest changes in methodology’s or technologies.
At the other end of spectrum are the very short courses. Again, these are on point, have been around for years, and usually target people who want to be self-employed or start a side hustle. My mother for instance.
Empowering People Through Flexible Education.
Self-paced online colleges offer a powerful alternative means for men and woman to pursue their educational/employment aspirations at a reasonable cost.
Although they are flexible, and easily accessible, they still require you to make the time to complete them, and turn the knowledge into action.
Whichever way you look at it, the opportunity is one that can enrich both, your personal and professional life.
Thanks for reading.