Working and Learning Remotely: How to Earn a College Degree or Teach College at Coastline While Living on an Island

Professor David Michael Lee

You may have heard of expatriates living on a tropical island teaching English to the native population, but you may not know is that you can live on an island, Catalina Island in this case, which is located just 22 miles off the coast of Los Angeles County in Southern California and teach at a college or even earn a college degree!

David Michael Lee is doing just that, as an instructor of Fine and Performing Arts at Coastline College in Orange County. Born and raised in Orange County David Lee is able to teach a majority of his classes online – and yes, he is doing it from an island!  

According to Global Workplace Analytics, almost half the US workforce now holds a job compatible with the ability to work remotely, at least part-time. The work shift towards remote culture is growing and is becoming the future. People are considering career changes in that direction and companies are embracing the remote work culture.   According to a recent Flexjobs report, their remote job ads had a significant increase of over 50% the past few years.  With a bit of contemporary technology, a computer or phone, and a connection to the internet or wi-fi, one can work almost from anywhere.  More and more traditionally offline jobs, including teaching are now moving into the virtual online world and the freelance world is exploding online. 

The primary driver is that access to talent is significantly increased through the use of freelancers. The advantage to companies is that they are not limited to sourcing employees with a 20-mile radius of the office. Online work means companies can dip from a global talent pool and access extremely high level or specialized skill sets when they need them. So learning online is a great way to show that one is capable of doing full-time work online as well. Say good-bye to that painful commute!

The benefits of online learning can’t be beat when it comes to earning your college degree.   

Multiple Ways to Communicate with Your Professor 

The great thing about online classes vs. traditional classes is the flexibility you have to communicate with your professor. So between email, live chat, and telephone conversations, you should have more opportunities to get feedback or have a great Q&A session with your college professor.

You Have Better Opportunities to Concentrate

You can choose any place that helps you learn the material to gain a greater understanding of the overall body of knowledge you need to earn your degree.

You can Customize Your Learning Environment 

Whether you’re at home, on the road or at a friend’s house, you can create your own perfect room to study class materials and do homework assignments. You don’t have to put up with any more disruptive environments like crowded libraries.

Enjoy a Flexible Schedule 

One of the great benefits of getting an online degree is you can still work full time and manage time to earn a degree in your off-hours.

Boost Your Career Advancement Opportunities 

if advancing your career is dictated by your higher education accomplishments, then you take only the courses you need to get a promotion by upgrading knowledge and skills. This means no more waiting years to complete a traditional degree to get an opportunity to earn a promotion or a raise. Instead, the time you invest could only be months.

It’s Eco-Friendly 

you don’t have to commute to a college take the courses you need to complete a degree. You’ll save money on gas and vehicle maintenance, but most importantly, earning an online degree saves you time that you can use to study and take exams in the comfort of your home.

Your Online College Credits Can Transfer 

By carefully researching colleges and universities you are interested in earning a degree from, you can arrange credit transfer to get your degree. Contact the admissions office of the colleges you’re interested in and get a list of the online courses they’ll accept for credit transfer to get your degree faster.

Do Group Classroom Work Without Leaving Home 

Online college courses give you the chance to talk about classroom assignments using chat forums or live online discussion sites. You can still exchange ideas and dialog with other students without having to travel to a common meeting place that might not be convenient for you.

Join Virtual Study Groups 

It’s possible to form study groups online using free online software like Google Hangout or Join Me to study remotely with others as well. All you need is the time to join others virtually to swap ideas about classroom assignments, get questions answered about things you’re stuck on. You can share screens, present documents to brainstorm ideas and organize your study projects.

You Can Review Course Materials Repeatedly

Even if it’s 3am you have access to online course materials such as videos, podcasts, written materials to reinforce course concepts or theory you might be stuck on. It’s so much easier to flip through screens, use the “find” function to quickly zero in on relevant paragraphs quickly and take online notes to help you understand the class materials.

That said, the advantage to online college is not only for students. Professor David Lee is also the curator of the Coastline College Art Gallery, located on the Coastline College Newport Beach campus which is a vital and well respected art venue serving Orange County art students, local emerging and influential artists, and relevant artists from around the globe, as well as supporters of the arts and the local public.  The art gallery holds workshops, exhibition programs as well as receptions, artist lectures and other art-related events. It has been recognized as one of the top 15 excellent on-campus art galleries in Southern California. 

Professor David Lee

In his capacity as curator of the gallery, David Lee does sometimes have to commute from Catalina Island to manage the art gallery but is able to administer most of the work associated with the gallery while situated on the island.    

Coastline’s Art curriculum offers online and onsite, with a series of foundation courses that are designed to develop the understanding and application of visual language across a range of media, including fine art, digital art, photography and 3D design.   Whether one wants to paint, sculpt, or create a new website, Coastline will give you the strokes you need to create your canvas for life through certification programs or by acquiring an associate of arts degree.    

Not only can you work and live your dream while living on an island, but you can also get a college education and a degree as well. Tammie Katin is doing just that, and she also resides on Catalina Island. She is pursuing her bachelor’s degree in Insurance and Risk Management while she is working as a Senior Analyst and Insurance Compliance for the Catalina Island Company, the oldest resort company on Catalina Island.  Tammie had taken various college courses over the years at Butte Community College while she lived in Chico, California. 

She wanted to earn her bachelor’s degree but when she moved to Catalina Island, she did not think it would be possible for her to do so.  She has been able to pursue finishing her college education by taking online college courses she needed through Coastline College.  The ability, convenience, and flexibility made her journey possible and now has allowed Tammie the pathway to Indiana State University for her BA degree.   

With today’s technology, it is possible that almost anyone can now live on a tropical island and go to college to get a degree or be able to work remote in their chosen career.  It is no longer an impossible dream. The best of both worlds is available while living on an island surrounded by water, balmy weather, white sandy beaches, palm trees, and only an hour boat ride from the mainland. You can pursue your college education and earn a degree or have a professional career doing the work that you love to do.  

For more information about Coastline College Art Curriculum and Art Gallery, please contact dmlee@coastline.edu.   The Coastline Art Gallery is located at 1515 Monrovia Ave. Newport Beach, CA 92663.