by Paul Guidry
Published November 14, 2012
For some students, going to graduate school means earning a degree by interacting with instructors and classmates through mediated forms of communication and completing assignments on their own schedule.
For others, going to school literally means going to school. They thrive in the physical classroom environment and prefer it to online learning or even a hybrid degree. Campus Programs, as they’re known, have a lot to offer, and often provide personal experiences online or hybrid programs may lack. But, nothing’s perfect and Campus Programs have drawbacks to consider.
Benefits of Campus Programs
The phrase “It’s not what you know, but who you know” was probably first uttered by a powerful businessman. A businessman who was once a fraternity member wearing women’s undergarments slathered in mayonnaise. Fraternity house wisdom aside no matter how socially awkward you may feel, direct interaction with instructors and fellow students in the classroom and around campus can be a good thing. Diverse points of view may help expand your own thinking as it pertains to both your academic and professional career. In addition, forging strong bonds with instructors and classmates may lead to opportunities down the road.
Being on campus every day means, you’ll have the opportunity to interact with instructors and classmates every day. Whether it’s the classroom, study groups or one-on-one with professors, you’ll probably be able to have your questions answered as soon as you have them, participate in real-time discussions, and get in-person feedback about your work.
First-hand knowledge is another aspect of campus programs you may find appealing. Hands-on lab assignments and field trips to venues relevant to your area of study provide experiences a book or an online tour may never replace.
Look at it this way – you might have the MP3, but you still want to go to the concert, right?
For some of us, sticking to a schedule, let alone mapping one out ourselves would result in procrastination and disorganization of epic proportions.
With campus programs, your class schedule is set and regimented. Classes are generally held on the same days and times. You know where you need to be and when, so you can organize your day, week or semester accordingly. All you have to do is show up.
Yes, you still have to show up.
Drawbacks of Campus Life
Of course nothing is perfect. So, to ensure that you’re not getting too starry-eyed about campus programs, here’s a quick look at some of the possible negatives of campus based programs.
Taking classes on campus means you may have to live on or near campus. So, unless you’re lucky enough to live within reasonable distance to the school you’re hoping to attend, you may have to relocate. You’ll also have to consider housing, whether on or off campus, as well as food and commuting expenses.
Even with a part-time job, these expenses might quickly overwhelm you if you haven’t factored them into your budget.
Like a particular class? Chances are so do a lot of people. And classrooms may have limited space. So, when you’re enrolled in a campus program, sometimes getting into the classes you want or need to complete your degree may be tricky. And, you may encounter scheduling conflicts, so even if there’s plenty of room in one of the courses you want to take, it may interfere with another course you want or need just as badly.
Finding out how often a course is offered and what the average class size is can help you avoid disappointment, but remember, the school’s priority is to get a student in every seat. But that student is not necessarily you.
Structured classes seemed pretty sweet a few paragraphs ago, huh? They can be. But what if you already have a mandated schedule at work, or some other activity that creates scheduling conflicts?
Some campus programs require students attend a certain number of class sessions in order to complete the course. So, you may need to take a hard look at your extra-curricular schedule to make sure you’ve got enough hours in the day. Unless you’ve invented a time machine – in which case a graduate program may be a little mundane for you.
There you are
There are a lot of things to consider when deciding on any education program, and the topics we’ve just covered should start the wheels turning in your head as to whether or not campus life works for you.