Is Online Education for You?

Online degrees are a unique option that students have for pursuing a college education without needing to set foot inside a classroom.

The option to consider online courses has been on the rise within the past decade.

This is because technology has provided many different ways for students to earn their degree online.

Students often wonder what the benefits that online universities offer that a traditional college experience does not.

Choosing to purse an online education can be helpful for students who do not have time to build a schedule around on-campus classes.

For instance, students who have full time careers or families often benefit the most from not having to be on campus for classes each week.

To learn more about the pros and cons of considering an online college, as well as some of the overall costs, continue reading below.

What are Online Degrees?

An online degree is a way for prospective college students to pursue their secondary education online rather than within a classroom.

Online courses typically include a college or master’s degree but can also include non-degree certificate and vocational programs as well.

An online bachelor’s degree can be earned either primarily or completely through use of a computer, rather than having to attend classes on campus in a traditional setting.

With the help of technology over the past few years, an online education is a growing trend for many students who need to have a flexible class schedule.

Related Article: Searching for Jobs Online

Prospective online students should make sure that the university or college that they sign up to receive a degree online with is an accredited university.

Accredited online colleges must be recognized by one of the regional accreditation boards included in the Council of Regional Accrediting Commissions.

Any college or university that is not accredited may not offer legitimate degrees upon completion of the coursework and students should beware of investing tuition money into such an institution, as their degrees may not land them a job.

Advantages of Choosing Online Courses

There are a variety of benefits to choosing online degree programs to pursue a bachelor’s or master’s degree. Being busy or having outside responsibilities should not be a hindrance to getting a quality education. A few of the benefits to choosing accredited online colleges include:

  • Convenience – having coursework accessible at any time from your computer.
  • Collaborative learning – most online courses offer a collaborative environment with forums for all students to interact. Participation plays a key role in grading online work.
  • Limited schedule conflicts – students choose when they have free time to focus on school work without mandatory obligations of classroom lectures.
  • Improving technical skills – navigating new programs and coursework online can help improve a student’s technical skills.
  • Saving money – online programs tend to be much more affordable than a traditional 4-year college.
  • Comfortable learning environment – learning from the comfort of home, a coffee shop or library.

Students who take online college courses have the ability to incorporate classwork into their already established schedule rather than the other way around.

Without the need to commute to and from a classroom multiple times a week, there is more free time and less stress surrounding daily obligations.

This is most beneficial for full-time workers, parents or caretakers.

A student will have the option to work on his or her coursework early in the morning, late at night, or whenever his or her schedule has the time.

Students may also have the option of completing getting an online career education versus a traditional college education.

Disadvantages of Choosing Online Courses

While the benefits for choosing an online masters programs or bachelor’s programs may seem abundant, there are still a few drawbacks to consider as well.

For instance, online college classes tend to require a bit more self-direction and discipline on the part of the student compared to a traditional degree.

Attending on-campus classes means that a student knows where he or she needs to be each week, sometimes twice a week.

There is a schedule implemented that is easier to follow when compared to online classes.

Online courses will still have deadlines for assignments, tests, midterms, participation on lectures and so forth. Which means that student will need to have exemplary time management and organization skills in order to stay on top of the coursework.

An online degree will allow flexibility that some students need, however, they will still be required to allot necessary time each week in order to balance coursework with other priorities they may have.

Another disadvantage of online coursework is that there is little to no face-to-face interaction with professors and other students.

There will be opportunities to interact in an online forum, however, without physical interactions there may be a disconnect that some students feel with their classes.

Some find that an online degree program creates less of a dialogue between students which makes building relationships with both professors and other students that much more difficult.

Learn About the Best Online Colleges

As mentioned earlier, the best online colleges are the ones that are accredited. Before enrolling in an online course, students should verify that the college is accredited, which can be done through an accrediting agency.

If an online university is accredited, then it usually will be posted on an obvious place on the website for all to see. If the accreditation information about a college online is not readily available, then students should be careful in enrolling.

Earning a degree from a school with no accreditation is essentially considered a worthless endeavor.

Students will likely be in debt for a degree that many employers or companies find to be less than satisfactory. The best online universities will have notable accreditation and display it proudly for all students to see.

Costs of Online Degrees

One of the main reasons students consider an online degree over a traditional degree involves the overall costs.

Online colleges provide a more affordable approach to obtaining a bachelor’s or master’s degree in most scenarios.

While not all online college classes are less expensive, there will still be savings in associated with additional expenses outside of tuition.

For instance, there will be zero costs for commuting to an online class. This can be a tremendous savings for students who are taking three to five courses each week.

Additionally, sometimes the required textbooks or material needed for online work can be found online rather than having to be purchased through the school’s bookstore.

An instructor may have a textbook of his or her own and still scan pages or chapters online for all to use. In some cases, if the content needed for the class is already online as a free online resource, then students can use it without having to spend any money at all.

Related Article: What is career counseling?

It might also interest you: