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Live Classes vs. Self-Paced Courses: The Choice is Yours

Jayne Combs
Nov 18, 2013

Whether you are looking to obtain or renew your Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System & Registry (NMLS) license, you will need to choose which teaching platforms to use. Will it be the live classroom setting, live Webinar, or the online self-paced format? As a Mortgage Loan Officer (MLO) and NMLS instructor, I have both the personal experience and student feedback with respect to these various platforms which I’m going to share with you. I will begin with the pre-education (PE) classes. In most cases, people taking the PE course are either new or getting back into the business and are looking to get licensed. The information can be overwhelming if you are trying to learn it on your own via a Webinar or online self-paced course. I have heard this from many students that end up taking one of my classes after attempting to take one of the other platforms. They have all said it was a lot of information to absorb and was overwhelming. They also found it hard to remain focused. The students felt the live class helped them to retain the material better, a forum to ask questions freely, and also enjoyed the group discussions. As an instructor in a live classroom setting, I’m able to tell if someone is struggling with the material which allows me to further expand on the topic at hand. Whereas, the other platforms are either limited or don’t offer this at all. In my opinion, it would be worth your time and effort to find a live classroom format even if it means traveling to a remote location. While it can be a grueling 20 hours that is usually done over a period of two days, the information you take away from a live classroom setting is superior to any other format offered. The live classroom setting is your best bet when it comes to learning, limits distractions and helps you to form a solid foundation when preparing for your exam. For continuing education (CE) classes, there is a little more flexibility when it comes to which teaching platform is the best. While I am still a firm believer that a live classroom is the best option, a live Webinar comes in at a close second. In the classroom setting, you are sitting with other seasoned loan originators who share similar day-to-day experiences, can hold discussions of various interconnected topics and run through specific scenarios based on the information being presented. In some cases, they have found out that they were actually out of compliance and had it not been for the open forum, they might have continued to expose themselves to possible fines and/or jail time and the possibility of losing their license. However, if you are unable to attend a live classroom setting, then my next recommendation would be a live Webinar. With a good instructor who engages the group, a live Webinar class runs a close second to the live classroom setting. It still gives you the ability to ask questions and run scenarios by the instructor. The downside to a Webinar is that while you have some interaction with the instructor, you lose the discussions that typically take place in live classes between other attendees. Now, there are those of you out there, and you know who you are, who don’t want to have to sit still that long and think the online self-paced course is the way to go. To some it may be, but for the majority, I would say no. I’m not going to lie, the material isn’t the novel you just can’t put down. People tend to skim through it so they can go and pass the test and get it over with. But you’re really only harming yourself because you are not retaining or learning much. This could jeopardize your license if you are not aware of all the laws. But for those of you that find this the only way and it works, then great! In conclusion, my recommendation is always the live classroom setting whenever you get a chance, followed by a live Webinar, and then lastly, the online self-paced course. Jayne Combs is a mortgage loan officer with First California Mortgage. She may be reached by phone at (661) 965-0088 or e-mail
Nov 18, 2013