This is the third installment in “My Journey to Becoming a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist.” If you are stopping by today for the first time, I recommend that you hop back and read:
If you have read the other posts, you know that I am becoming a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist in a very non-traditional way. The program that works best for me and my life is a distance program, which means that all of my courses are online. I never set foot in a class room, discussions are kind of like chat rooms, and I Skype with my teachers for office hours.
While this may sound a bit dreamy at first, I’ll be honest in saying that there are definitely some negatives to the whole going-to-school-online thing.
Because I’m a positive thinking person, I’ll start with the pros list first!
This really is the best benefit. I love that if I have some extra time, I can work ahead a bit. If I have the work done and I’ve turned in the assignments I don’t have to just “go to class anyway” because that’s what my course schedule says I have to do. That means there is no attendance and I can basically do my work in my jammies. The schedule flexibility has allowed me to work part time, volunteer for organizations outside of school, be part of a singing group, continue blogging, teach group fitness on the side, travel, and meet with people in the Denver area during the work week. This pro has also allowed many of my classmates to maintain full-time jobs and raise children while working to become an RDN.
This may seem like a weird benefit, but when I was in the working world I almost never showered at home during the week and typically at breakfast and lunch (and sometimes dinner) on the run while going to work or at work, in a meeting, etc. I really enjoy the fact that I can eat at my table, fix what I am in the mood for at the time that I am hungry and that I can shower in my own shower. Yep, it’s the little things!
While I am completely loving my journey to become an RDN, I’d by lying if I didn’t tell you about the tough times. There are many days when it feels like “I’m the only one out there.” I typically feel this way 1-2 times a month when things get really busy (like before a test, or when a lot of projects are due at the same time). It’s really difficult not being able to commiserate with others in my program (in person) on a regular basis, meet for study groups, and just TALK things out and truly discuss what we are learning. Luckily, I nanny in the afternoons, I take Bernie on walks, workout at a gym, and set up friend dates for myself so I at least SEE other people occasionally.
Kind of. With each course you take, there is a professor assigned to you. Some are really great and they respond to your questions right away (I’ve been known to be quite the question master), offer office hours, will meet with you (if you live in the same area), and will really help you through the process of learning the material. Unfortunately, most of my experience with distance learning and online courses has not been that positive. Typically, you are given a syllabus, possibly some power points that may or may not be helpful, a list of assignments and tests with due dates. It ends up being a lot of reading from the book, google searching for videos that give a deeper explanation of the topic, and chatting with other students about how they have no idea about what is going on or what to expect on the test either. All of that being said, the courses that are part of my nutrition program have been great. It’s all of the prerequisites that I have to take through other institutions that are not so great.
*If I’m looking at the sliver lining here, this has really taught me more about my learning style which is helpful for future opportunities!
This can totally be on the pro list, but at the same time I think you may understand why it’s on the cons list too. If you are the type of person that doesn’t really work well on your own, needs constant outside support from others, and must be pushed in order to succeed then taking classes online and being a distance student may not be the best choice for you. On the other hand, I have been told by professionals in the nutrition field (and others) that completing a non-traditional program that requires the individual to piece together several parts of the puzzle truly demonstrates something outstanding that will set us apart from others when applying for internships, jobs, etc down the road.