So you've decided to follow your passion and pursue an education in art at a college or university. The next choice may be whether you should choose an online school or follow the traditional campus route to completing your education. There are advantages and disadvantages to each approach. While both are excellent ways to learn about art, there are unique differences between the two that prospective students should be aware of before making a decision.
Convenience versus Accessibility
Online art schools may be more convenient. Many offer class schedules that accommodate the lives of working adults seeking educational opportunities. In fact, the primary advantage of online education is that hours are more flexible, so students may complete coursework in their own free time. For those who wish to pursue a more intensive program of study, however, traditional programs may offer the best route. In a campus setting, one has access to facilities, studios, and services that may not be copied online. Many courses such as woodworking, lithography, and other art subspecialties which require specialized equipment for the student to use are not easily taught over the internet. On the other hand, a program in art history could be completed over the internet, as the bulk of the coursework is studying books versus applying concepts.
The digital experience, therefore, can be somewhat limited versus the traditional campus route. Also, while professors should be more accessible when they're teaching online, that isn't always the case. Some online students cite the lack of teacher involvement as their biggest concerns about continuing their education over the internet. Even when a professor is holding up their end of the bargain, communications by email and through online portals may take hours to reach a student. At a campus, the professor may easily be approached about questions or problems as they usually keep office hours for that purpose*.
Freedom versus Structure
The convenience of online art schools come with a price. Since there is less structure, the students have to be more motivated than ever before to pursue their own studies. In a traditional classroom setting, the professor has greater control over the student body, creating policies and setting due dates which the students must adhere to in order to get good grades. With online study, however, there typically isn't any policing from the instructors. Instead, it is ultimately left up to the individual to push themselves towards completing the course, developing their own craft, and meeting the requirements of the school to finish their education. This takes self-control which some students may not possess, particularly younger ones just out of high school. That is why online art education was first introduced as an alternative for mature students, who were thought to be motivated enough to handle the additional responsibility and freedom**.
Introverts versus Extroverts
Online art education is a great alternative for students who are too shy or not comfortable enough to take part in traditional classroom discussions and projects. Older students may sometimes feel stigmatized when having to sit in a classroom with other students that may be half of their age. By going to art school online, however, they may feel more relaxed and better focused. Also, online programs provide plenty of opportunities for participation, as one will generally be heard in such an environment that often relies on emails and group work in order to complete assignments. Extroverts, however, may often do much better in a traditional classroom, as they can use the opportunity to interact with others in order to make connections which may be valuable later on in their careers. Additionally, universities and colleges provide other networking opportunities that simply aren't available via the internet, especially the extracurricular activities where relationships can be formed that may serve students well for the remainder of their lives.
Simply put, for self-starters who are mature and driven enough to complete the necessary course of study on their own, an online art education is the best bet. For those who need more structure or wish to exploit the resources and opportunities provided by a traditional classroom setting, physically attending a college or university to study art is a better choice.
Are you ready to pursue your art degree? Get information on programs in your area and online using our art degree finder at the top of this page. ↑
*For more information, please visit: http://www.artschool.com/choosing-an-online-art-education-23250.aspx
**For more information, please visit: http://www.artcareer.net/faqs/online-art-degrees-vs-traditional-art-degrees/