Almost 5 years ago, I decided to study business informatics alongside my full-time job. Many nerve-wracking and exhausting terms later I am on the verge of finishing my bachelor-degree. In this blog post I will talk about some of the experiences that I have had in recent years. I want to provide you with information on what to expect from distance learning and possibly help you with your decision if you are currently considering distance learning yourself!
If you want to know more about why I chose distance learning in the first place, you should definitely read the following blogpost: Distance learning – Why?
Busy? Then I’ve summarized the most important information of this blogpost for you.
Weekend? Not for you.
Admittedly, it won’t be like that for everybody – but for me that’s pretty much what happened. In most cases, weekends meant studying. Even though I was able to schedule my study sessions freely and never spent the entire weekend studying at home, a large part of my time was still reserved for university. How could it be otherwise, as I was working every day during the week and still wanted to have some spare time left 😉.
Not really. Since the students are most likely geographically distributed, personal contact is pretty rare anyway. In addition, many of the “students” already have a family or children. If you are looking for the “classic” student life, you will probably be disappointed with distance learning
Got a lecture tomorrow.
Only if you want to 😉. You decide when, where and how you study and have almost no guidelines. Of course, you should schedule your submissions and study for the exams at the end of the term, but these are very few fixed points. Otherwise you are your own boss.
Do I regret this decision?
In retrospect, though I’ve spent quite a lot of time researching distance studying, my decision to actually enrol in university seemed very spontaneous to me. But spontaneous decisions are often the best and I can only confirm that this has been the case!
While studying for various business-related subjects, I often asked myself whether studying computer science would not have made more sense for myself. I have completed a technical education, have a somewhat pronounced interest in programming and also work at a software company. So I definitely feel more comfortable in this world.
Then why business informatics? My goal was to broaden my horizons. I wanted to go beyond the technical area and acquire knowledge in new areas. Apart from that, I wanted to acquire skills that would help me for my future career. In this respect, business informatics was the right decision, because I (rarely) could call back on my existing technical knowledge, but also learned a lot of new things.
In retrospect, I am glad that I went through the economic modules that were annoying at the time. The knowledge that I have acquired has changed my view on certain topics and will certainly help me in the future. In addition, I have discovered an interest in some areas of business information technology, which I will continue to pursue outside of my academic studies as well!
Because of what my answer is no. I may have questioned my decision occasionally, but never regretted it. Looking back, I am glad that I have invested large amounts of my free time in my personal education in recent years! In general, I think that education, regardless of the area or in which way you further educate yourself, is sometimes one of the most meaningful ways to spend your time.
Distance learning – again?
This is a question that I have thought about quite often. I have now completed a bachelor’s degree in business informatics and intend to add a master’s degree in this area. Because of that, I have to decide once again, where I want to enrol for my next degree. I could ask for educational leave, I could try to reduce my working hours to have more time for my studies or strive for a self-sustaining scholarship. As you can see, there are lots of different options.
Business informatics itself is pretty theoretical already. In addition, this already very theoretical subject is usually taught even more theoretically through distance learning (in my experience). There was no practical work during my distance learning. Group work or similar were also never an issue and – even if I am not fond of group work – I still think that different forms of teaching would have been of advantage.
However, the arguments of my first blog post on distance learning are still valid for me. I don’t want to lower my standard of living and I still think that professional experience is probably even more important than my studies. Even if I should subsequently work in a completely different area, X years of work experience cannot be of disadvantage. And apart from that, I still want to complete my studies primarily out of interest in the topic.
So what is left? My current plan is to continue working full time. In addition, I would like to start a master’s degree in business informatics at a regular university. I am hoping for a (more) practical approach to a lot of topics, compared to distance learning. Apart from that, I think that I could personally benefit from a physically present lecturer. Basically I have no problem with studying purely text-based, but there were often situations in which directly talking with a professor would have saved me a lot of time and trouble.
It is currently difficult to say how realistic it is to accomplish this. However, since I generally have no time pressure to finish my studies, I assume that this challenge can also be mastered!
Distance learning for you?
If you’ve read this blog post, there is a good chance that you are also interested in distance learning. I already explained reasons for or against distance learning in my first blog post, Distance learning – Why?
If you are interested in further academic education, but your living situation simply does not allow you to attend a traditional university, you often only have the choice of distance learning anyway. Otherwise, you should ask yourself why you are interested in distance learning. If you are looking for flexibility and have no problems motivating yourself and learning consistently, distance learning can be a great opportunity for further education!
Additionally, distance learning makes vacation planning much easier, which I very often found to be pleasant. Because you can study anytime and anywhere and have no mandatory events, it doesn’t matter where you study. A spontaneous short vacation will certainly not be prevented by any mandatory events!
This kind flexibility is accompanied by some disadvantages. In my opinion, distance learning is very theoretical (even more theoretical than certain topics already are). In addition, you are very often on your own. Although you can communicate with other students/teachers online, it is completely different from personal contact. If you are looking for a “regulated” process, you will hardly find it in distance learning either. While you have compulsory courses and deadlines at a conventional university, there are very few fixed points for distance learning.
To put it briefly: Flexibility and independence vs. “regulated” process and social contacts. It’s up to you what suits you more.
I am glad that I decided to do distance learning. Nobody can take away the experience and knowledge that I have gained. Even though the additional burden of full-time employment was a challenge, I would probably not do it differently if I had to make the same choice again.