College students are seeing online education as a standard nowadays. Students have stories about their community college online class experience, and there are some students that are taking advantage of complete online degree programs.
Before taking a dive into the online education experience, here are ten things to consider about online education that you might’ve not known.
- Online education is considered superior to campus education according to the USDE. The US Department of Education did a 1996-2008 study on online education versus campus education and deduced that online education was better overall for the student. Of course, better still to online education is hybrid education, where classes have online and campus elements.
- Online degree programs are as reputable as campus programs.Online degree programs go through the same accreditation process that campus-based programs have to go through, whether the campus-based program is at a private or state school. If you find an online degree program that’s been approved by one of the Six Regional Accreditation Agencies, it’s a shoe-in.
- Online degree programs do not necessarily come from “online only” schools. There are schools that offer both fully-online and fully-campus versions of the same degree choice, such as Hawai’i Pacific University.
- Online education may be new, but it can come from an older school. There are schools that have been around for over a century—such as Saint Leo University—that have fully-integrated online programs. In Saint Leo University’s case, they have the Center for Online Learning, backed with over a century of academic success.
- Online degree programs come in both semester-based and at-your-own-pace styles. Some online degree programs let the student complete each class at their own pace, while other online degree programs have strict, semester-based classes with timely assignments and tests, just like the campus-based version of the program. It’s important to research what type of program the prospective student is looking into before enrollment.
- An online degree program is regarded differently by every employer. Some employers are still shifty-eyed about academic programs online, while others have gone beyond the skeptical phase and embraced it simply as a different way of learning. To err on the safe side, it’s best not to brandish flags about how your degree came from online, but to also be open and honest about it when asked.
- Online education is not always the more affordable option. Online education is often depicted as the more-affordable, easy route to education, but this isn’t always the case; this is especially true with how most online programs are offered by private institutions. Let’s face it: college isn’t cheap. If someone tries to sell you for an online education because of its affordability, be skeptical. This should be about the quality of education, not about the dent you’ll have in your pocket!
- Online education is not always the easier option. Online education is designed for students that are constantly in a different place, such as military members, traveling artists (singers, actors, etc.), and professional with business trips abound. The online degree program may also be attractive, however, to the student that just likes to stay at home. Just because you can study from the comfort of your laptop doesn’t mean it’s any “easier” though—on the contrary, many students find they perform poorly in online degree programs because they lack the dedication! When signing up for an online degree program, make sure you are responsible with due dates and taking the classroom seriously.
- Online degree programs are just pieces of paper purchased off the Internet. There is such a thing as a “Degree Mill,” which is a fraudulent college that sells print-out degrees. There are two kinds of Degree Mills—the ones that offer this service to a knowing student; and the ones that con students out of money and convince them that the degree is legit when it’s not. The best way to avoid this is through accreditation.
- Online education did not start with a computer. Early distance learning classes were instead done with televisions and VHS. Imagine the improvements that have happened to distance learning since then!
So, how do you look at online education? Is it an educational option for you? Remember degree programs each have their own personality that cannot be deduced by teaching method alone—research the program you’re interested to see if it’s right for you!