Online education is not a novel concept. They have, nonetheless, recently gained prominence and mainstream acceptance. Some students wonder if earning an online degree is worth the time, effort, and money.
For many college students, completing a degree online sounds great. Not being obligated to attend a class at a specific hour allows students to work outside of school or have more leisure time. However, students are aware that their degree could make the difference between unemployment and a successful career. They may be concerned that if they get their degree online, their credentials will not be taken seriously by future companies. There may even be concerns that the degree is invalid or less valuable than one gained through typical college programs. Concerned students may wonder if earning a degree online is truly worthwhile.
Distance Education’s History
Correspondence courses were the oldest type of distance education. These courses were delivered via e-mail between student and instructor. They were frequently given by for-profit universities that notoriously advertised their lessons on television using celebrity endorsements. The majority of correspondence courses concentrated on developing practical skills such as bookkeeping and HVAC repair.
Later, telecourses became fashionable, allowing students to view programming in conjunction with practical lessons. Renting telecourses from accredited institutions or for-profit technical schools is an option. They may be wholly broadcast programs or, more frequently, they were used in conjunction with regular, in-seat classes.
With the arrival of the internet, these earlier modes of education became outmoded. Students began interacting with instructors via email, online chat sessions, and bulletin boards. For-profit universities such as the University of Phoenix concentrated on offering these degrees to a wide number of students with few prerequisites. Numerous businesses discovered that students enrolled in for-profit universities lacked the necessary abilities for employment. This contaminated the concept of online education.
Around this time, respected, authorized colleges such as Columbia College of Missouri and the University of New Hampshire began offering online bachelor’s degrees. They accessed programs produced by professors with expertise in in-seat learning. These degrees were equally rigorous as that offered in-person, but with the extra benefit of flexibility. Columbia College’s online classes were initially targeted at military people before being made available to the rest of the country.
The History of Distance Learning
Online education has exploded in popularity in recent years. According to CBS News, about 75% of institutions now offer online courses. Nearly 4 million students in the United States participate in online education. There are still certain colleges, such as the University of Phoenix, that operate virtually entirely online. While there are several unlicensed online “diploma mills” that provide almost worthless degrees, the majority of online universities are legal and grant degrees that are just as valid as those awarded by regular colleges. Numerous online colleges and universities also offer classes in rapidly increasing job disciplines such as engineering and computer technology. Students who receive degrees in these subjects will have an edge when entering the labor market.
Naturally, online schools are not the only choice. From trade schools to Ivy League universities, online degrees are accessible. Through online education, students can achieve certificates, certifications, undergraduate and even graduate degrees.
Why Should You Pursue an Online Degree?
Learners at all levels are discovering that online degrees offer a secure, flexible alternative to traditional classroom instruction. They are ideal for parents, full-time workers, and anyone who chooses to avoid congested classroom situations. On weekends, late at night, or during lunch breaks, online classes are available. The flexibility alone is the reason for many people to choose online education over traditional, in-person classes.
Another reason to select online coursework over traditional coursework is financial considerations. On the surface, online education may appear to be more costly than traditional tuition. Online courses, on the other hand, frequently include the cost of textbooks and certain lab expenses. One disadvantage of online education is the high cost of living on a college campus. Residence halls, activity fees, and meal plans can cost as much as or more than tuition. Those looking to save money while acquiring a degree may choose to study online.
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Opportunities to Return to School
Online degrees are also a viable option for people impacted by the slowing economy. Senior citizens who have lost their jobs may choose for online education to get a new degree and find new employment. They will be able to care for children or other domestic obligations while still progressing toward a new job through online classes. Numerous online institutions now provide beginning courses for elderly students who may be uncomfortable with computer use. This reassures folks who are concerned about transitioning to an online format.
As is the case with a traditional college education, online classes need effort and accountability. Nonetheless, this effort pays off in the shape of a degree and, eventually, a profession. For students who work or simply want a more flexible schedule, online education may be an attractive choice for completing a college degree.
Are Employers Receptive to Online Degrees?
Although students may fear that their degree would be reduced since it was completed online, this is not the case for many businesses. As long as the college that awarded the degree was reputable and accredited, the degree is just as valid as one received through traditional education. In some fields, it is more significant to have a degree in a particular field than it is to have earned it in a particular location.
There are occasions when an online degree is more appealing to prospective employers than an on-campus degree. Employers may find it appealing to see that the student was able to balance work and family obligations while simultaneously pursuing an education. Earning an online degree with distinction demonstrates a high level of devotion, intelligence, and a strong work ethic. Additionally, it demonstrates to prospective employers that the student is self-sufficient and capable of working effectively without direct supervision.
It’s critical to keep in mind that not all employers will see online degrees the same way. Some may have had negative experiences with employees who obtained an education through online diploma mills. This is one reason why a student could consider enrolling in an online campus that is affiliated with a regular brick-and-mortar university. Employers may be more receptive to hiring someone with a degree that is backed up by a strong reputation, regardless of whether the degree was achieved online.
A Hybrid Strategy
Numerous colleges have taken a hybrid approach to grant degrees. They may offer certain classes online while others are held in person. Others may allow students to pick between online and traditional classrooms on a daily basis. Columbia College of Missouri, as indicated previously, is one of the numerous universities around the country that have embraced a high-flex approach. Along with Pace University and the University of Florida, Columbia College has equipped classrooms with technology that enables students to enter the room in person or connect remotely. Students who normally attend in-seat classes but are ill or must be absent from school do not have to miss out on educational possibilities. Students who want to study online can meet their lecturers and fellow classmates in person.
Are Online Degrees a Good Investment?
It is critical to remember that a college degree is about much more than employment. Numerous careers demand specialized degrees and training that can be achieved exclusively through college courses. Without a specialized degree, medical professionals, engineers, and scientists are unlikely to succeed. However, many other occupations require on-the-job training.
In most cases, the degree received is considerably less significant than the expanded horizons gained through learning in the first place. A strong illustration of this can be seen within the United States’ leadership. George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan both studied economics and sociology as undergraduates. Joe Biden and Richard Nixon both earned history degrees. Bill Clinton earned a bachelor’s degree in foreign service. Barack Obama earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s degree in English language and international relations.
While the majority of students will not become president of the United States, their studies will help them developmentally and emotionally. This is true regardless of whether they learn online or face-to-face.
Obtaining an Online Degree
Students occasionally express concern that they will be unable to afford an online degree. Scholarships typically do not apply to online education. State and federal financial aid are rarely, if ever, available to for-profit institutions. How does an online student pay for their degree?
The first option is to enroll in an accredited institution that is aid-eligible. Fortunately, the majority of schools fall within this group. A student, even one who studies entirely online, can apply for financial aid by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The majority of online schools include staff members committed to assisting students during this process.
Another possibility is to speak with an employer. Numerous employers provide help to students attending online education. Finally, the majority of online colleges provide payment plans that eliminate the need to pay tuition in one large sum.
Am I Prepared for Online Education?
Online education is fundamentally different from traditional schooling. Students must be self-motivated and completely self-sufficient. Being organized is not a plus but a requirement. Students must have adequate equipment and time to attend classes.
When a student’s schedule is irregular, it can be challenging to maintain an online program. Even though the model is flexible, it is prudent to schedule the session at a set time of day. For instance, a student may decide to cram the class into the day only to discover that the day has slipped away. They will then convince themselves that they will make up the class the following day, only to discover that the same thing occurs repeatedly. Self-scheduling is a better option. One may choose to study all online classes concurrently. Instead, they might choose two in the early morning and two more at night. Additionally, they might schedule classes throughout the week. It makes no difference when classes are taken. It is critical to have a timetable in place to ensure that classes are not missed.
Students must have a strong internet connection and a contingency plan in place in the event that computing equipment or the internet connection fails. Fortunately, many classes can be accessed via laptop, tablet, or cell phone in the event of an emergency. Some students opt to take classes at their neighborhood libraries. One advantage of online classes is that they may be taken from any location. When a student’s home internet connection fails, he or she can seek brief relief in a coffee shop with free wifi.
It is critical for an online student to establish a rapport with the teacher who is teaching the course. Students should make an effort to contact their instructor in order to establish a relationship that will aid in their learning. Online instructors typically have a much larger student body than academics who focus only on in-class training. Establishing a friendship, even though the internet, might assist a student in becoming more committed in his or her education.
Relationships do not come to an end when the lecturer leaves. Students should make an effort to communicate with their classmates who are also taking the course online. Discussion boards are a typical feature in online classes. Connecting with others is critical to having a complete college experience.
Along with scheduling time for each session, students must ensure they have enough time for homework and exam preparation. Excellent online institutions need courses to be just as challenging as on-campus study. Without the benefit of being surrounded by other students, those assignments maybe even more challenging. Time management is a critical ability for online students, maybe the most critical.
Finally, the value of an online degree is defined by the amount of work and effort invested by the student. A prospective employer will be able to determine the student’s accomplishment independently of the institution where the degree was received. What is more significant is the amount of knowledge received by the pupil. With the appropriate school and the correct approach, online learning is simple.