College is a right-of-passage to turn the uninitiated into the initiated of higher knowledge. Students are attracted to online education because of its convenience will soon be exposed to a heavy workload that leads to greater awareness. The difference between those who succeed, from those who don't, is the “grit” that comes forth from self-motivation.
Students are not all the same and gravitate to virtual or traditional based on their personal preferences. The online world attracts people who are slightly older, English speaking, prolific Internet users, internally motivated and engaged in a career (Kahu, Stephens, & Zepke, 2013; Johnson, 2015). Student’s unique situation and personal characteristics are often evaluated before taking a particular course.
Online students are highly motivated and often lifelong learners. Like traditional college students they attend a higher education institution to get ahead in life and choose the best path that helps them achieve their ends while balancing other responsibilities. The online approach requires a high level of commitment and internal motivation.
Upon entering a higher education institution the individual student’s personality and abilities begin to take precedence in determining their performance. Separating the wheat from the shaft occurs through the retention and persistence rates from course to course. Convenience meets hard work and some students may not be adequately prepared for the challenge.
Persistence is where online students show their ability to be succeed in school and life. Those who overcome life challenges are persistent with their goals and don’t give up are often those who become successful. Those that make it to the end are a cut above the rest as they managed their lives, careers, and school work load without the same level of social support as other programs.
Differences between virtual and traditional education does exist even though the ultimate need to grow and progress is the same. The online student may be initially attracted to the convenience of remote education but will soon need to tap their internal motivations to succeed in a virtual modality. The online graduate is a highly motivated independent thinker that can keep going even when no one is cheering them on.
Kahu, E R, Stephens, C, Leach, L & Zepke, N 2013. The engagement of mature distance students. Higher Education Research & Development, 32,(5).
Johonson, G. (2015). On-Campus and Fully-Online University Students: Comparing Demographics, Digital Technology Use and Learning Characteristics. Journal of University Teaching and Learning Practice, 12 (1).