With the advent of the Internet, it’s much easier to obtain your college degree today than it was just 10 years ago. Not only can you research accredited institutions via the Internet, many of those institutions will offer online courses you can use to obtain your degree as well. Some institutions, like the University of Phoenix Online, allow you to earn your degree entirely from online courses.
This is extremely beneficial for working adults and adults who have families, since neither group can take up full-time student status with their busy lifestyles. Plus, it’s unlikely they can go to the campus 4-5 times a week for classes like they could when they left high school, due to work and parental commitments.
However, before you decide to take online courses toward your degree, realize that the learning environment will be considerably different from a traditional classroom.
First, you will have to do most of the coursework by yourself; there will only be limited contact with your online classmates via message boards, instant messaging, and email. There won’t be any physical, social contact unless you meet your online classmates in person in a study group. Social contact isn’t required to complete online coursework.
Second, even though it’s more convenient to attain your degree online, it’s not necessarily easier workwise. In fact, due to the scrutiny and doubts of some of their peers, some professors will expect more work from their online students than their offline students because of the distance learning, the medium needed to convey the material, and the lack of “hands on” teaching. Because students don’t have to attend lectures, it is considered that they should spend
equivalent time on their online work.
Third, with no verbal communication, you have to complete the online coursework. Some will find that difficult because they learn better when listening to someone speak, rather than just reading text online.
However, for those who learn better by reading text, they should have little problem with online classes. In addition, those who are shy at offering their opinions in front of a class may also benefit more from online courses as they can post their opinions on the message boards and converse with their fellow classmates without ever revealing their identities, which could help them be more confident and be more forthcoming with their opinions and views.
Fourth, many online degree programs are expensive; some are even more expensive than their campus-based counterpart courses. Some universities subsidize their campus operations with their online courses, probably as
compensation for the student not going to the campus, paying for parking, eating at the cafeteria, using the vending machines, etc.
However, one advantage in terms of costs when it comes to online courses is that textbooks are usually not required, as lectures, additional notes, assignments, and other materials can usually be downloaded from the Internet.
Fifth, you have more freedom in terms of completing assignments and taking tests and quizzes; unlike the traditional classroom, there is no set time for completing assignments (outside of the end of the semester.) You may
have to take tests and quizzes within a week after they are announced, but you still have a 7-day period to work with; in a traditional classroom, the day and hour is decided for you. That is another reason why online classes are so
beneficial for working adults and parents – the classes can revolve around their busy lives, not the other way around.
You can get the education you need either via the traditional classroom on campus or via the online classroom on the Internet to further your career or change your career, but be aware that just because the information provided to you is the same material, the manner in which you will receive it and the challenges you will face in learning it won’t be the same.