Schools are excited to offer distance education classes to students. They can bring in a broader scope of students including those who would be unable to attend college without distance education. New programs are being developed and implemented each year. For some degree programs, the school has a short residency requirement. For most students, the opportunity to complete the majority of their education through distance learning outweighs the upset a residency requirement may cause.
Residency requirements vary by college, but most institutions try to arrange distance education options that are agreeable to your schedule. Some colleges offer weekend college and require a certain number of credits be completed through this option. Usually it is not a large amount of credits. Many times the amount is under ten credits but not over fifteen credits. So at most you would need to arrange to take five classes at the campus. This option is preferable to some students because it gives them the chance to experience the college lifestyle of attending campus classes and being in the college environment.
Other residency requirements require a one or two week stay during the summer or at the beginning of the distance education program. These residencies are required so students can meet the faculty, take introductory courses, meet other distance education students face-to-face and get a feel for the college. Many students actually enjoy these residencies because it increases their excitement for learning and allows them to meet students personally who will soon become screen names on a class discussion board. Most schools that offer these sorts of residencies make them mandatory. You cannot enroll in the distance education program without completing the residency requirement.
Another option some schools use is to require a one semester residency. These residencies are popular amongst schools that offer medical science degrees online. With a one semester residency, schools can evaluate your skills and abilities while at the same time offer you hands-on lab work. Semester residencies usually happen towards the end of your degree so you can utilize all you have learned during the past few years. These residencies tend to set you up on campus in a dorm with roommates. If the residency happens in your last semester, you can plan to stay a couple extra days for graduation.
When completing the residency requirement you need to bring enough money for lodging, food and fun. Most schools offer students the opportunity to stay on the campus for a cheaper fee than staying in a hotel. Some schools offer meal plans, but if it is the summer you may find you need to eat at restaurants or buy microwaveable dinners for your room. Since most schools are not local to the student, remember to bring extra money to see the sights if you are staying in a large city.
Overall, most distance education students enjoy the residency requirements of the online program because it enhances their college experience. For some students, being able to put faces to screen names and visit the brick and mortar building of their online program builds excitement and motivation.