Choosing a university to study in and follow my dream of having a career in law was probably the biggest decision I had to make in my life. Unfortunately for me, I lacked the pre-requisite subjects to get into the local law schools and I thought that I would have little chance to fulfill my dream until I was introduced to the concept of distance learning.
I was rather skeptical initially, but gradually I opened up to the idea as I learnt more and more of what it really meant including all of its benefits.
So, what really is Distance Learning?
In a nutshell, it is a method of studying that goes beyond the conventional face to face learning experience offered by traditional universities. Although it isn’t new, distance learning degrees have become more popular in the recent years with the advent of the internet, allowing students to study without having to physically attend university for lessons.
One issue however is if these distance learning courses could be recognized world-wide. This is where a student must exercise care in choosing the university and must be mindful of whether the degree of study will be recognized locally. A bit of research told me that the university I had wanted to go to; the University of London, had an affiliate centre in my country, which meant that I could attend lectures just as on ordinary university student, but also with the option of self-studying.
Should a student wish to study by themselves, universities that offer distance learning opportunities offer a combination of printed material as well as online resources (such as online libraries) that enables access to unlimited study material. Furthermore, online lectures, computer-based tests for assessment and student forums are all easily accessible which personally, I found extremely effective during the course of my studies.
Still not convinced? Here are some benefits this opportunity provided me with:
Distance learning allows you to study if not from the comforts of your home at least from surroundings that are familiar to you. Coming from a closely-knit family, the main reason I opted for a distance learning programme was because it meant I would not have to leave my family behind for a long time.
Studying in your own country also means not having to pay for additional living costs when studying abroad, such as accommodation. If you opt to self-study, this would also include the added benefit of having to pay little to no tuition fees.
Working while studying
Since there is no compulsory requirement to attend lectures, there is always the option and ability to work while studying, either as a means of earning money or as was in my case, to gain practical experience in the field. If you happen to be pursuing extracurricular activities like me, you would find that a distance learning programme could enable you to pursue your talents and passions while studying.
The ever changing world is opening doors for more and more opportunities for education. There are so many opportunities out there that we often are not aware of or tend to overlook. Education is something that everyone deserves to have and if at first you don’t succeed in finding the best suit for you, fear not because you eventually will find your happy ending as I did.
Shanya Cooray is 22 years old and lives in Sri Lanka. She is reading for her LLB from the University of London and is currently a third year student. She works as a freelance writer during her spare time and is a passionate traveller.