Acquiring a Degree Online: The Pros and Cons
The argument continues on about the advantages and disadvantages of obtaining online education degrees. In doing the research it was obvious that one of the most positive reasons for choosing to earn a degree online was flexibility. Being able to go to class on your schedule while raising a family or continuing to work can be priceless. All too often, people put off their educational goals because they simply do not believe that they have enough time to devote to it, or would have to take valuable time away from the family in order to do so. While you still will have to devote a certain amount of time to your studies, and possibly attend an online seminar for your classes, the flexibility offered by most online colleges can give you the tools and time needed to achieve your dream of a degree. There are also many potential students who do not live in an area where a college or university is easily accessible. Driving fifty miles or more just to attend classes is not cost effective, and can be very time consuming for someone who already leads a busy life.
Online courses typically can allow you to achieve your degree at a faster pace than a regular campus college. The option of going to school year round with smaller breaks between quarters, rather than having two to three months off in the summer, can help to move your education along more quickly and possibly allow you to graduate a few months to even a year earlier than expected. Having these smaller breaks may also help in retaining the information learned versus the three month summer break making transitions from class to class much smoother. Studies show that student’s involved in online learning have also typically outperformed students attending a campus college.
Another benefit of choosing online classes is people from all walks of life, all over the world are able to take the classes with you. You have to deal with cultural and social differences every day in your normal life, and this will continue to develop during your time in school, plus It will help give you an edge when you are working in your degree field. No matter what type of degree you are pursuing, or what field you choose, the art of communication with different populations of people will be very constructive.
Now do not forget that there are also some disadvantages with this form of higher learning. Online colleges and university’s need to be researched to determine if they are accredited. There is little value in the employment world for a degree from an unaccredited institution. Also, if the college you choose to enroll in is not accredited, and you choose to further your education at a later date, at a different institution, there is a very good chance that you will not be able to transfer your credits. Basically, you will have to start over, so always make sure you do your homework.
You should also ask yourself if you are sure you will have the space and time to study. Time set aside in a quiet place removed from the commotion of your normal life is imperative. Make sure that personal responsibilities and every day tasks are completed so when you do sit down to study, your mind will be exactly where it needs to be. Having the support of your spouse and family can be extremely helpful, as they can help by doing chores or taking care of the kids. However, you should be aware that your interactions with your fellow students and your professors will be mostly through emails, chats and group discussions. Do not spend more time with people online than is necessary. The lack of interpersonal communication with your family will cause more harm to your degree efforts than it will help.
Choosing online classes will also test your computer skills and your knowledge of software applications needed for your classes. If you do not consider yourself to be computer savvy, you may want to consider taking a basic computer class before getting started. It is always better to know your limitations in the beginning so you do not have to face unneeded anxiety and stress in a time when you need additional tranquility. Computers have come a long way, so do not fret if you realize that you need help. For the most part, computers are very easy to use and the more you work with them the easier it will become.
Self discipline is going to be your ally during this particular time and it is imperative you possess the ability to monitor yourself and push yourself to take on the tasks at hand. Knowing that you will have to do the bulk of the work on your own will require a lot of obedience on your part. If you need to study, finish an assignment or even just read a chapter in a text book, being able to resist the temptation of putting off your schoolwork to spend time with friends, or indulge yourself in a hobby you enjoy, is going to determine how well your grades will be. If you have the tendency to put things off until the last minute, then it is very possible that online schooling is not going to be the correct choice for you. When students procrastinate, to do the more fun things in life, it can also open up the door for cheating. Online colleges have integrated ways to help ensure that cheating is curbed by chat sessions, live seminars, and discussion threads and by limiting the size of their classes to 25 students each. By minimizing the size of the classes, it allows the instructor the ability to learn their students writing styles, and in some ways, their method of thinking. Now, just because the schools and professors have implemented these safeguards against cheating, it does not mean that it does not happen. Typically the students who don’t apply themselves to their studies and attend their class seminars, chats and discussions are more likely to cheat or fail. This is true for on-campus students as well, but your professors are not able to oversee you in the same manner that they can students who are physically in their class. Having someone else do your papers, reports or even attend one of your live seminars constitutes cheating. The outcome if you are caught or found to be cheating or plagiarizing someone else’s work is the same for both types of institutions. As there is a no tolerance policy on this problem, cheating and plagiarism are grounds for immediate dismissal, and there is a high probability that, if you cheat, eventually you will get caught. Consider the fact that if you are expelled, and are not able to finish your degree, you are still responsible for the tuition costs you have accrued and any financial obligations owed to the college you attended. Cheating really isn’t worth all of the trouble it will cause now and in the future, so just make sure you ask yourself if you have the drive and time to devote to the work it will take to reach your educational goals. If you cheat, you are only cheating yourself.
The costs of attending an online college versus a campus college are relatively the same. While the online classes tend to be less expensive per credit hour, there are technology and application fees that are not included in the tuition costs. The textbooks, are usually included in the price of your tuition and many text books are offered as ebooks which will help with your out of pocket costs. You also need to consider the fact that while attending an online college you will not have to commute to and from class everyday. You won’t have to worry about finding an appropriate child care facility, and don’t have to worry about the wardrobe needed to attend classes in person. For online classes there is one major purchase you should be prepared to acquire and that would be a desktop or laptop computer and any software you may need in order to access your classes and complete your assignments. After weighing costs from both online and campus colleges, the online tuition looks to be the more affordable way to go, however, the costs of what will be needed at home to complete your classes and attend your seminars and live discussions online will more than likely equal everything out.
The next question that needs to be answered is, in taking online courses is there a greater chance I will graduate versus if I had attended a campus college? There is no easy answer here not because one is better than the other.. The retention rates fluxuate simply because it depends on the types of students involved what their educational goals are and how serious they are about obtaining their degree. Many online students have typically been out of school for a number of years, and are looking to achieve their degree, and advance their potential employment opportunities. These students are able to do extremely well if they are disciplined in their studies, and have the technological skills needed to perform the tasks for each class. The undisciplined students, with minimal skills, and a tendency to procrastinate are far more likely to drop out, or the college administration may at their discretion discontinue their classes because of poor academic performance. The retention rates for on-campus students also varies for much of the same reasons. In a nutshell, it all comes down to how well the student wants to perform, how dedicated they are to achieving their degree and how disciplined they are. This in turn, demonstrates how the graduation rates work within the two different methods of learning. Studies have shown that students enrolled in community colleges do not really know what their academic goals are and may not enter school with a clear career path in mind. Students pursuing a four year degree are more likely to have career goals in mind versus students pursuing a two year degree. Let’s also not forget that real life in many instances gets in the way for some college students regardless of whether they are pursuing an online or on-campus degree. Most students end up working low paying jobs, have to cover the cost of books, rent, utilities and gas, and the stresses of real life become the reason why it is so hard for them to fully focus on their schooling. Job opportunities in their career field as well as the higher rate of pay possible for a college degree will most likely determine the transfer and graduation rates for these students, giving them the necessary goal needed for them to succeed.
The best approach in achieving your education would simply be to set some goals for yourself. Start out with a short-term goal such as; getting an A-B grade for each class this semester. Then you can set intermediate goals; something attainable within two to four years, and finally long-term goals; what you want to achieve five or even ten years down the road. People who have goals in mind for themselves are more likely to push themselves harder and ultimately reach those goals.
So, in essence you really need to think about what your goals are in achieving a higher education, what your limitations are and if you can effectively budget your time. It ultimately is your decision whether to choose an online college or university or attend an on-campus school. Neither one is considered right nor wrong and online student registrations continue to climb. The internet has the ability to open doors to people who just ten years ago would not have had the opportunity to even consider going to college. There will always be pessimists who will undermine your decisions, there will always be supporters who help push you forward. The bottom line is, it is your decision, it is your life and it is your future and only you can decide where you will go and how far you can reach. Live your life like there is no tomorrow, because tomorrow is not a guarantee for anyone.
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