Staff Editorial: preparation is key for classroom alternatives

Classroom alternatives can be beneficial, but be aware of the risks.

Chimes Staff, Writer

For those restless in the classroom, there are ways out.

Biola currently offers 12 undergraduate courses online. Additionally, a choice of 14 foreign countries and 11 domestic programs are available for those seeking alternatives to the classroom. But should students take the opportunity offered to them?

It is easy to romanticize studying abroad. The opportunity to live in an exotic location, research in the epicenter of your field, or simply add stamps to your passport may make your summer, the interterm or semester seem nothing more than an extended dream vacation. But before you think you need only to pack sunscreen and a “Lonely Planet” guidebook, realize this: studying abroad is more than lazy tourism. It is a confronting experience that demands pushing boundaries, challenging preconceived notions and living vivaciously. Adventurers wanted.

However, not all students are granted this opportunity. Studying abroad is not cheap. Additionally, planning a term abroad takes precise scheduling and foresight. For students who transfer credits in or change their major, many simply cannot afford the time away from Biola.

For those looking for classroom alternatives who are not able to ship out, they can stay in. Online education facilitates a free schedule in which students avoid snooze-worthy lectures in exchange for submitting homework and contributing to “class discussions” in their pajamas.

But sitting alone on your bed costs a key element to the classroom learning environment: people. One of the first critiques of online education is the lack of community and the affect that has on learning.

Otherwise, online classes are like communism: perfect on paper. Often, when students actually commit to taking an online class they don’t understand that they are really taking their education into their own hands. When you forget to finish your two-page World Literature final because there was no one to remind you and you fail the class, there is no one to blame but yourself.

Structure is fundamental in online classes, if you have a clear layout from your instructor of what is expected of you and timely deadlines are stipulated for assignment completions, you are set up for success.

Preparation is key for success in either classroom alternative. For those looking for a change of scenery, know that the opportunities are out there, if you know what you’re getting yourself into.

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