Should I do the LPC exams online vs in-person
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Since the pandemic, when universities were forced to adapt to online teaching, some course providers have now kept the online version of the LPC as part of their service offering. In a post Covid world, you might be considering opting for the online course even though there is no restriction on completing the qualification in person. There are many factors to consider when making this decision so let’s discuss.
Advantages of the online LPC:
The most obvious advantage is that the course is remote. This means that you can do it from your bedroom / study / living room / Timbuktu if you wish! It gives a lot of freedom especially for international students who want to complete the LPC in the UK through providers like BPP or University of Law but for other certain reasons, they might not be able to actually be in the UK during the course. Keep in mind that the timetable will still be GMT so you’ll have to log on during those times regardless of what time it is wherever you are.
Due to the remote nature of the course, it means you don’t have to travel to university. For those living outside the city, don’t drive or just prefer an extra hour in bed in the morning – this can be a huge advantage of the online version as it cuts down a lot of travelling time which you can then reallocate for other things (hopefully reading, but if not, I won’t judge). This has the added bonus of cutting down on travel costs also which is always a plus for student budgets!
+ Classroom environment
The tutor sessions are taught in groups as you would find in a normal classroom which occur at specific times each week with the same students and tutor. This replicates the in-person sessions as closely as possible to ensure you do not miss out on the experience of class discussion with peers and gaining more understanding from your tutor.
Also, depending on your personality / approach to the course, as the tutor groups are online, it means that there is not the same pressure to speak in class as there is in person. As the group sessions try to replicate as close as possible to the real thing, you will be in a ‘classroom’ with students with the tutor who will go through the work and ask questions with ample time for discussion through microphones, however, there is definitely less pressure to speak up as you can type your answers and your video will not be on. So, for people who find the classroom environment intimidating, this could be a great option for you to learn and get the most out of the course without feeling anxious about the delivery of it.
If you’re an independent learner, this could actually be great for you. It requires a lot of independent learning, motivation and commitment from your side but there is more freedom with how you do this as long as you feel you are understanding the content and progressing through the curriculum.
People have very different learning styles so if you think you learn better in this way, it could make your learning experience a lot better than if you were forced to sit in a classroom where you know you can’t pay attention or feel like you can’t speak up.
Disadvantages of the online LPC
– Classroom environment
I know this was in the advantages, but it can also be a huge disadvantage for some people depending on their style of learning and personality. As mentioned, the tutor group sessions are online where the tutor is on video and students have the ability to speak on a microphone. There will be presentations and ability to type for group work during these sessions, but they will all be done online so you do lose certain advantages of being in person.
You get through less material online due to technical faults such as internet connections, having to ‘raise your hand’ to ask or answer questions and just because of the format. There also tends to be less group discussion due to the ability to be passive within group work as you aren’t forced to speak as you would be in person. So, if you learn a lot from discussion and group work, this element might be difficult as some sessions could involve only a few people adding to the discussion.
Okay so if you thought the in person LPC required self-motivation, well the online LPC requires a whole lot more. There is no-one making you do the work, attend the lectures, or even attend the group sessions (technically attendance will be noted, and you will get an email BUT it is different). I can definitely see situations happening where students coast by for a few weeks doing the bare minimum because they are just in their bedroom attending online tutorial group sessions, but then there is a lightbulb moment where they realise how behind they are on work.
This can happen for various reasons such as being able to stay quiet in group sessions or not having the pressure of sitting in the library forcing you to work – but whatever the reason, it can be easily done and you need a lot of self-motivation to ensure you do the work to keep up with the timetable as it depends a lot on your own commitment.
– Social element
As you will have probably gathered, a huge disadvantage is that you lose out on a lot of the social side of the university experience when completing the online LPC. Everything is online and you don’t see the other students in your sessions so you feel like you have done a year with these people but only know their voices which can seem a bit weird.
Also, depending on your location, you probably won’t meet up with them or go into the campus so you lose out on meeting new people which can be a great opportunity to network and make great friends with likeminded people aspiring for the same career as you.
However, this situation can be what you make it. You can definitely still make friends on the course if you make the effort with others and try to engage as much as possible during the sessions as well as stay in touch with peers you did get on with. We just went through a whole pandemic where people started job with colleagues they never met, or even did house viewings virtually that they later moved into, so it is possible to build lasting connections with people via the online LPC, it just requires some effort from you if that is something you want from the experience.
The online and in person LPC costs the same (FYI London costs more for in person) so you don’t actually save on the tuition fees if you complete the online version. This might seem strange, but the option was provided to be a suitable alternative (almost like a different location) to the in person LPC, as opposed to being a less worthy version with a cheaper price tag.
So, for those reason, if you are thinking of opting for the online LPC, think about all the other factors and whether those suit your needs as opposed to just thinking about costs because the tuition fees will be the same.
As you can tell, this choice is very much a personal one depending on your personal circumstances, learning style and personality. There are many factors to take into consideration when making this choice which I have highlighted above.
Try to think about how you best learn, what that environment looks like and then the pros and cons of each. The online LPC has an incredibly inclusive element by allowing you to be anywhere which gives more freedom but if you were looking forward to the social side of doing your post-graduate, then this probably isn’t for you.