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Law Student Undercover: The Pros and Cons of an Online Degree

Man on laptop at the beach

I’ve always wondered what life would have been like as an online learner, contemplating discussions in student forums or listening to lecturers but never actually seeing my lecturer in person. As I edged closer to finishing my law degree I reflected on ‘what might have been’ had I decided to undertake my law degree away from the social contact of other fellow law students.

So, for the benefit of on-campus law students everywhere, I decided to undertake some research and take a break from campus life and explore distance learning. Here is what I discovered…

The Perks

  1. Students are offered maximum flexibility and can easily fit their study schedules around other commitments like work, social or family.

  2. Online learning is not just watching recorded lectures. Law schools utilise a tonne of resources. There is online mooting and webcam links for discussions with professors and other students. It’s easy to get involved and it doesn’t feel like you’re being scrutinised by the tutor for participation points.

  3. Geography is not a problem. Australia is a big country but rural lawyers-in-training do not have to relocate for their degrees. E-learning allows people to study and be where they want to be.

  4. Cost! We all know the hardships university students face. Online subjects can be much cheaper for those who are cash strapped and don’t want to run up a large HECS debt.

The Not-So-Great Aspects of Online Learning

  1. Law students are inherently social creatures. Unfortunately, you lose some of the ability to cultivate friendships. Online learning restricts the social support network of classmates that you find with an on-campus degree.

  2. Due to the fact that you essentially learn by yourself when taking an online degree, it can be easy to feel lonely and isolated from your law school cohort. This can mean you lack motivation or reduce the enjoyment of studying the law.

  3. Procrastination is always knocking at your door. If you do not have an actual learning space (and even then it’s hard) there are so many distractions around you when learning from home. Whether it’s family, Facebook or food – there are plenty of other things to do than study and this feeling can become heightened if you are not physically on a university campus.

Although I have found that online learning is not for me, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t for everyone. The law applies to every single part of our large and beloved continent and the advance of technology means that even our remotest communities now have access to legal education. If on-campus life is starting to feel a bit impossible, or just not for you, then try an online law degree. If the law is your passion, you will not regret it.

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