The best online programs for introverts and extroverts

When choosing an online program, students would be wise to look for features that suit their personality type, writes Bradley Fuster, a special assistant to the provost for innovative learning at SUNY Buffalo State who teaches hybrid and online courses.

It's notoriously difficult to engage and retain students in online courses because the format requires students to have high levels of self-awareness, accountability, and discipline.

Many students choose online courses based on cost and schedule, according to Fuster. But, he writes, they should also consider their personality type.

He offers several tips for introverts and extroverts when choosing an online degree program.

According to Fuster, introverts benefit from programs that let them work independently and at their own pace. He adds that introverts shouldn't necessarily avoid programs with a more social component, but cautions them to be aware that these programs might drain more of their "social energy."

Fuster recommends the following types of programs for introverted students:

  • Programs that are more individualized and asynchronous;
  • Competency-based programs that focus on specific skills; and
  • Go-at-your-own-pace-style programs specifically designed for working adults.

On the other hand, Fuster writes, extroverts will want to look for online programs with more social and collaborative components. He recommends the following types of programs for extroverted students:

  • Programs with a large amount of teamwork and virtual group discussions;
  • Chat features that allow instant feedback and the ability to ask questions;
  • High amounts of interactivity and collective engagement; and
  • Hybrid programs that combine virtual and face-to-face learning.

Fuster concludes by encouraging students to consider several factors of online programs and whether they would be a good fit for their personality type. For example, he recommends checking how much of the work is synchronous versus asynchronous and whether there are opportunities to join virtual clubs or social activities (Fuster, U.S. News and World Report, 5/17).

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