More and more frequently I seem to be asked this question, so today I thought I would share it here with you and my thoughts on it. The question is: "Is there any advice you can send my way regarding online school options (any pros/cons)?"
The Answer Lies With You
I think it is important to find the “right” school for yourself. There are many schools available that offer in person, online, and now even online live video streaming lessons depending on the one that you choose. I personally recommend reaching out to each school that you think you would be interested in and talk to each instructor in order to decide which one you want to learn from first.
I also think it is incredibly important to decide what type of goals you have in regards to your education. For example, are you wanting to become a practitioner? A writer? A seller? Or some other goal? Once you decide your end goal, create a business plan with a series of things you need in order to reach your end goal. Put together a list of questions that pertain directly to your goal within the aromatherapy industry and make sure you have those handy when talking to school instructors. These questions will ultimately help you decide what school you should start with - not finish with.
I am of the firm belief that it is important to learn from everyone you can. I have studied with Andrea Butje, Cathy Skipper (aromagnosis), Robert Tisserand (Tisserand Institute), Sylla Shepherd (Atlantic Institute), and am enrolled to study with Ann Harman this summer, and am also planning on studying with Li Wong when her school is up and ready. Although my chosen path is as a seller because of my passion for working with the plants and artisan distillers, that does not mean my learning will ever stop - I will forever be a life long student of aromatherapy.
Pros and Cons of Online Learning
As far as the pros of learning from a strictly online source, those will vary from individual to individual. I will list a few below that I think might be helpful.
- Most online schools allow you to access their content for life. This can be a huge bonus for many because it means as our industry learns new information, if the school wants to stay on the forefront, they will update their information as well. This means you will have access not only to what you learn during the active training, but also the new information as you check back.
- Learning online means you can learn from the comfort of your own home. In some cases, many of us cannot afford the added expenses of flights, hotels, food, and childcare (for those with small children) that often come with attending in person training.
- Along those same lines of learning at home, it also means you can decide when you are learning and can make your own schedule. This tends to be a huge bonus for those with smaller children or those that are working a 9-5 job while training.
- You can pause your learning if you have a life situation that requires your immediate and potentially long term attention. With in person classes, they are very structured and tend to be designed for specific dates/times. If you have to miss, you risk not being able to finish the program if the instructor is not flexible.
There are cons to online training though.
- The teaching style in an online program may not fit your learning style and many of us do not learn the same as others.
- There isn't enough one on one time with an instructor to ask questions or staff are not knowledgeable enough in all areas to be effective at answering questions. This happens a lot, too. Especially when we start considering cosmetic formulation knowledge as the online schools currently available are created by aromatherapists that do not have that knowledge.
- There is no one there to make sure you keep to your set schedule but you. In person training opportunities really do make sure you stay on task and are actively learning during your time with the educators. However, in an online learning environment, unless you are very driven, finishing a program may take you a lot longer than you originally thought.
- It is very difficult to find others to relate to and share successes and failures with online learning. And not everyone on social media will have any idea of what you are talking about. Even exceptional online programs will fail here because of how student forums are structured.
So remember to formulate your questions, reach out to the schools you are interested in and most importantly, never stop learning.