Ok, before I was just a guy going to seminary I was just a virtual guy going to a virtual seminary. Yes, I was an online student. The journey for me began about 7 years ago when I was trying to determine if God was calling me to seminary. I’m not so much sure how much of it was God and how much was me just looking for an excuse to skip town… either way, after looking into lots of seminaries and talking it through with my pastor, I decided to give distance education a shot.
Now, the first thing to note is that the education I received via my distance program was great. I loved sitting down and listening to the lectures, reading all my textbooks, writing my papers. I felt like these exercises truly helped me in my job (I was a campus minister). However, as time went on I discovered what I believe is the greatest challenge of distance education… life.
My wife and I moved to a new city, we had our first baby (little man), I went through 3 jobs (eventually getting back to campus ministry), we bought our first house, our basement was destroyed by a flood (3 times), we had our second baby (sweetpea)… and on and on… All while trying to find time to sit, read, and study. Needless to say, it didn’t really pan out.
Over the course of 5 years I purchased 6 extensions ($50 each) and withdrew from 3 classes (meaning I paid a lot of money for the class, didn’t do the work, and then bailed at the last moment). For me, there always seemed to be something more pressing than the classes… besides, they’d always be there tomorrow.
So, my experience ultimately led me to the decision that I’m going to have to do a residential program if I ever want to finish this degree. Now, please don’t take that to mean I think distance education is a bad idea… quite the contrary. I think it is amazing. However, I believe that it requires a certain type of person, with a certain personality, a certain discipline, and a certain situation. You might be that kind of person.
Anyone out there had any luck with the distance program? Let us hear your success story.