There are some excellent reasons that you might want to earn an online college degree. There are also some terrible ones, and if you have any of these in the back of your mind, it’s time to think again.
Reason 1: I’m very shy & quiet; if I get my degree online I won’t have to interact with people.
While it’s true that studying for an online degree involves less face-to-face contact with fellow-students, or teachers, it’s a myth that no interaction is required. Particularly for a bachelor’s degree, where you’ll be taking a wider range of courses and spending less time on individual in-depth projects, most of your classes will involve very real interaction.
Since you’ll be studying online, that interaction takes different forms. Whether it’s through email lists; virtual classroom software; bulletin boards; social networking; or forums; distance learning is likely to require you to take an active role in debate and discussion. You may be sitting alone in your room, but in a very real sense you’ll be surrounded by students. Their ideas and questions will enrich your education — and their education will be similarly enriched by yours.
Reason 2: It’ll be easy, because I don’t have to go to class.
You certainly don’t have to fly out of bed; run a comb through your hair, throw clothes on; and dash out the house to the bus stop in order to make that 8:00 am Intro to Statistics class. For which, incidentally, you should be very grateful. However, many of your classes will involve regularly scheduled lectures and seminars which you’ll be required to attend.
It’s true that, unlike online courses a decade or so ago, you may be able to review those lectures at a time that’s convenient to you. This flexibility, known as asynchronous learning, allows you to schedule your time more efficiently and is one of the great benefits of distance education. But this flexibility also demands self-discipline. You’ll still be responsible for completing the material and there are likely to be regular assignments designed to keep your progress on track; the college doesn’t want you to fall behind.
Reason 3: I’m a computer expert, so learning online will be simple.
A thorough knowledge of computers is helpful in almost any field and it certainly won’t hurt your online studies, particularly if you’re focusing on technology or programming. But you do not need to be a computer whiz to earn an online college degree. If you are comfortable browsing the Web; sending email; writing and saving a document; and chatting via instant messenger; you’ll be quite capable of completing any of your online courses.
Online schools realize that in order for their students to succeed, and to continue their studies, the user experience must be pleasant. Frustration will lead to students dropping out, so most programs offer extensive support; online tutors who can walk you through software; 24 hour help desks, and more.
Reason 4: It’ll be quicker to earn my degree online.
There are accelerated online degree programs, just as there are in traditional brick and mortar schools. Conversely, many online students choose to progress at a slower speed, allowing them to fulfill career and family obligations simultaneously as they earn their degrees.
The work load for any specific online class is unlikely to be lighter than that for the traditional equivalent. Students who have combined online and traditional courses in their degree work report that study time and assignments are largely comparable. Of course, some schools are less demanding than others, and the same is true of different classes and departments.
Again however, this is no different to the situation for a traditional student; you’ll be the one to decide the speed of your progress, and the rigor of your course load.
Reason 5: Online colleges are lower-quality, so the classes will be easier.
For some years, there were online degree programs that had the reputation of giving degrees in exchange for a little effort, and a lot of cash. This phenomenon of “degree mills” still exists, but it is a minuscule part of the picture. If you restrict your choice of schools to accredited colleges and universities then your degree will be absolutely equivalent to a traditional degree. Neither your transcript, nor your diploma, will specify whether you studied online or not.
Therefore, the quality of your education will depend on two main factors. The first factor is the quality and reputation of the school you choose. Thousands of schools around the world now offer at least some college credit classes online. You can choose to study at Harvard; at your state university; or at a local community college; it all depends on you and what you’re looking for in your education.
The second — and most vital — factor is your commitment, and the effort you put in. If you’re a good student, and you take your class responsibilities seriously, you’ll succeed. You’ll earn an online college degree you can be proud of from any accredited school you choose to attend — even if the only time you actually walk through the gates of the college is to receive your diploma.