written by: Sylvia Cochran•edited by: Sarah Malburg•updated: 11/15/2013
Before committing to an online degree program, make sure you have what it takes to succeed. There are three common factors that can lead to drop out: personal commitments, financial problems, and poor choice of program. All of these can be avoided with planning and consideration.
slide 1 of 5
Students that take online classes are susceptible to high drop-out rates. This occurs both for full-time and part-time studies. In fact, many students drop out before they even make it through their first course. This is usually because the student was ill-prepared for the time commitment or didn't fully understand what was expected of them.
slide 2 of 5
Avoid Becoming an Online College Drop-Out
If you are a student diligent about your online studies, drop-out dangers generally may not apply to you, as you have most likely committed to your studies and are willing to do what it takes to make your online learning experience a resounding success.
For those who do drop-out, three of the most likely causes are due to:
Poor choice of an online program or course
slide 3 of 5
Focus on Personal Commitments
One of the reasons why students drop out of online college in the early months of a program is the clash of personal commitments versus the perceived amount of time needed to study, prepare assignments, and interact online with peers and instructors.
During the honeymoon period of online learning, it seems easy to forego sleep for an additional three hours a night to make it happen, but sleep deprivation sets in quickly. Before long the idea of attending college – online or in person – no longer sounds like such a great idea.
We all have social lives and familial obligations that can get in the way of studies. Many online learners also continue to work full-time, which can have an impact on their studies. You will have to enlist support from friends, institutions, and family members in order to complete your online education. Do your homework with the kids when they are doing theirs; rely on mobile applications for distance learning to make the most of lag time, and work out a plan with your employer to allow for some reasonable scheduled accommodations.
Most importantly, learn to sometimes say no, and at other times it is perfectly fine to just delegate a task rather than undertake it yourself. You may be surprised to learn that friends and family members, and perhaps even bosses, like to be part of your success story! Prevent life events – foreseeable and unscheduled – from eroding your commitment to your distance learning.
slide 4 of 5
Deal With Financial Problems
There is a good chance that in the past you have dabbled with college – online or at a brick and mortar college – and perhaps you dropped out, leaving you with student debt to pay off. Add this to other consumer debt, and before long you may find that adding additional debt – online learning can be a costly proposition – is causing you to question your resolve and decision to enroll in an online school.
Making matters worse, family members may also comment on their doubts about you pursuing a program while bills are piling up. Since school work will make overtime or a second job an unlikely proposition, you may be tempted to see your financial problems as a reason for dropping out of your online school.
Protect yourself against becoming a part of the drop out rate statistic by recognizing that your entrance into online learning holds the key for future stability. In the short run, there are some financial sacrifices, but in the long run, the advantages are undeniable. Privately contact your online learning instructor and ask for a bit of help -- early on in the course. Ask to be teamed up on the peer level with a successful online learner who can help you stay on task, properly apportion your time, get help with budgeting through grants and loans, and also try to stay motivated.
slide 5 of 5
Choose Your Program Wisely
An advanced degree in math sounds prestigious and you would love to have a mathematical mind, but if you are the quintessential artist who cares little for trigonometry and associated mathematical equations, you will find early on in your online learning experience that you are mismatched with your course of choice.
This is the easiest pitfall to avoid as there are many things potential students can do to determine what major or program is a good fit for them. Speak to academic counselors, or take a personality or aptitutde test to get a better idea of what your interest are. Analyze your future career goals to discover what program would best help you to achieve your dreams.
Prior to actually enrolling in an online learning program, ask to audit a course. Quite a few online institutions allow you to audit courses without a fee or at a much reduced cost. This is possibly the best way of ensuring that you are on the right track with your online education goal and can greatly reduce your risk of becoming one of the group of students who drops out of online college.