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Distance Learning, or correspondence/e-learning, is a fast-growing choice among SA students. It offers you the flexibility to plan your studies around your own personal schedule and to learn while you earn, combining work and study.

The choice of distance learning courses, from many top colleges and some universities, is more comprehensive and more affordable than face-to-face studies. It has the benefits of zero travel fees to campus and back as well as the course fees being a lot less than campus learning. With most distance learning institutions, your study materials are included in the fees.

Given the wide choices available to distance learning courses for SA and international students through many internationally recognized institutions, this is fast becoming a popular choice of tertiary education here and around the world.

So what are the pro’s and con’s?

Advantages

  1. Well, for starters, you don’t need to travel to classes. This saves money but is only an advantage if you are self-motivated!
  2. Distance learning can be a good thing if you want to schedule your studies around your job or if you simply prefer to work to your own timeline and want to save on travel costs.
  3. You can do it from the comfort of home.
  4. Apart from the obvious study guidelines you will need to follow to be successful, you will have the flexibility to determine your own pace. Again, you MUST have self-discipline!
  5. The choice of qualifications available to you through many highly respected colleges and universities. Whether you choose to learn by correspondence or online course materials, most institutions are geared to provide you with an individualized approach to your study requirements.

Tip: The sheer scale of choice available to you in terms of levels of qualification can be overwhelming. Make sure you choose an institution with recognized accreditation.

Some institutions, such as UNISA, offer qualifications from Higher Certificates and Diplomas all the way through to Masters and Doctoral degrees.
Others, such as Oxbridge Academy, Damelin, INTEC and False Bay College (to name a few) offer National courses from N1 – N6 in a selection of courses from engineering, marketing & advertising, accounting, Business Management, Public Relations, Tourism & Hospitality and many others.

Here are some other colleges which offer Higher Education and TVET qualifications via distance learning:

www.oxbridgeacademy.edu.za

http://www.up.ac.za/distance-education

http://www.intec.edu.za/about-intec/

www.falsebaycollege.co.za

https://www.rosebankcollege.co.za/

 

Disadvantages 

Lack of Social Interaction. Learning in a traditional environment presents students with the opportunity to meet and interact with people from different locations on a personal level.
Distance learning only limits students to classes and learning materials that are based online.
Though students can interact through chat rooms, discussion boards, emails and/or video conferencing software, the experience is quite different to that of a traditional campus.


Tip:
There is strength in sharing. Form learning or discussion groups at a public local venue such as a library, community centre or coffee shop with other online learners. You can also include students from traditional training environments. Find group members by joining a local community Facebook, or other social media, group and inviting interested people to connect with you.   

Safety FIRST: Always meet new people in a public/SAFE place. Don’t get in a car or go to the home or any other private place with someone you don’t know – or who have just met online!

High Chances of Distraction: With no face-to-face interaction with instructors and other students, those who are enrolled in an online program might find it hard to keep track of their coursework and assignments. That’s because there are no constant reminders about pending assignments and/or deadlines. It only requires one to be self-motivated and focused to be able to complete a course successfully. Distance learning may not be a good option for students who keep procrastinating things or those who aren’t able to stick to deadlines.

Family and friends can also be a distraction when you are studying at home. Make sure that you get their support or find a quiet place such as a public library to work from.

Tip: Enlist the help and support of your family and friends. Draw up a study schedule and put it where everyone can see it so that you have peace and quiet during your study time. 
Make sure you schedule enough personal time to spend with the ones you love!

Technology requiredAnyone interested in enrolling for a distance learning program needs to have access to a computer or smartphone with a stable internet connection.

Conclusion

Despite some drawbacks, distance learning still provides better learning options for students wishing to enjoy greater convenience and flexibility in pursuing a course. The greatest benefits of distance education is that it allows students to access numerous learning tools using minimum financial resources.
Studying online is even made more interactive with the use of video conferencing software. That improves the ability to acquire and retain knowledge on a given subject.

Any student wishing to enroll for distance learning diploma or degree should weigh between its pros and cons to determine whether or not it’s a good option.

Generally, distance education can be the perfect option for working students or those who live far away from traditional training institutions,

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