For those who have read about my experience with taking distance education seminary classes you might think that I am not a fan of them… Quite the contrary. I think they are great. In fact, here are 6 things I think are great about online and distance education programs for seminary:
- Time – Are you a morning learner? A night owl who like to read at 2 a.m.? Well, the beauty of online and distance education programs is that you can take the class whenever works best for you. No longer are you bound to the school’s schedule. 8 a.m. class… Be gone! You now have the ability to chose when would be the best time for you to learn.
- Pace – Taking seminary classes online or through distance education allows you to set your own pace. Most programs allow you up to 7 years to finish your degree… so, you set your own schedule. This is especially great if you are trying to save some money as you can put off the next class until you have the funds to pay for it… but be careful… 7 years will fly by before you know it. However, it is nice to know you have some time.
- Money – Now, tuition and books will cost the same, but taking online an distance education classes for seminary will allow you the ability to study around your work. On a traditional campus the schedule is set by the school and your work must be set around that… not always good when you need a job to support your family. Taking distance classes allows you to work the hours your job gives and take classes when the time works for you… thus, you’re ultimately saving/making more money. Along with this is the fact that you are taking less classes at a time, so when tuition is due it is a much easier pill to swallow.
- Context – If you’re like me there isn’/wasn’t a good seminary in your current town. This, most likely means that you are going to have to move… and that means leaving your church. The beauty of online or distance education is that you can continue to be involved and minister in your local church context. In fact, your classes will often open many new and exciting ministry opportunities in your church and community.
- Focus – Unlike on a traditional class, most distance programs are done one class at a time. This allows you to focus all your energy on the information you are learning in the one class… theoretically leading to a greater retention of the material.
- Relationships – Most distance programs (as best I understand) require that you have a mentor through your seminary experience. It is truly amazing to have a person (or couple people) who have been down this road and are seasoned in the ministry to help you along the journey. I cherish all the coffees and lunches I had with my mentors as I discussed the challenges and triumphs I experienced in my classes. If you’re program doesn’t require it, I highly recommend you get one on your own initiative… trust me, it will make the classes that much more rich!