Facts and Myths about Attending Online School
Believing myths about online school without first investigating their validity represent the primary reason why most people decide not to enroll in an online degree program. Initially, when distance learning opportunities began emerging on the web over a decade ago, the majority of these unaccredited “higher” learning institutions offering certifications or degrees were nothing more than diploma mills, or fly-by-night companies that gave bogus degrees for a lump sum of money. Fortunately for the future of online learning, a few web-based colleges were genuinely dedicated to providing students with accredited degrees and eventually contributed to the efficacy and believability of the online learning industry. This makes it easy for anyone to go to school now if they are a single parent or work full time and do not have ability to go to a campus three or four days out of the week and make less money. For example, if you work in the medical field as a nurse and are interested in furthering your education and want to enhance your ability to make informed decisions when facing ethical dilemmas, pursuing a Masters in Health Care Ethics would be a great place to start. Not only will this help you when facing moral conflict but your colleagues will turn to you for advice. Employers will also look at what you have specialized in when applying for a job or asking for a promotion. Always having a thirst for knowledge will go a long ways.
Inexplicably, certain myths about the online school experience continue to persist today even as enrollment numbers have exploded in the past few years and employers now view online degrees to be just as commendable as traditionally earned degrees.
Leading MYTHS about online school include:
- Getting a degree through an online university is easier than obtaining one through a “brick and mortar” university–although attending online classes is much more convenient for students who work full time due to the flexibility involved with asynchronous scheduling, the material, assignments and expectations remain the same as those associated with traditional colleges and universities. As an online student, expect to devote at least several hours each day to studying and completing assignments.
- Online students have to be computer “geeks” in order to understand educational software and programs used in distance learning classes–as long as you know how to send emails, use word processing software like Microsoft Word and have rudimentary knowledge of how the Internet works, you will have no trouble taking online classes. Moreover, accredited online universities provide technical support for all students who encounter difficulties with any of the school’s online platforms.
- Attending online school is socially isolating and provides little to no interaction with instructors or fellow classmates–the amount of social interaction a student experiences while enrolled in an online degree program is up to them. With chat rooms, message boards, Skype, Google Hangout and other communication platforms available, students should have no problem interacting with professors, school administrators and other students if they desire to do so.
- Online college degrees are not as valued by employers as degrees earned at a traditional higher learning institution–before implementation of the rigorous accreditation standards that are now required for online universities to be able to offer valid degrees, the legitimacy of an online degree was indeed questionable due to the high number of diploma mills operating unregulated on the Internet. With regional and national educational accreditation organizations conducting lengthy investigations on the curriculum, instructor backgrounds and administrative practices comprising online colleges, other academic institutions as well as employers unilaterally respect the degrees obtained by online students.
The FACTS about Online Schools
- Students who attend accredited online colleges and universities may be eligible to receive financial assistance from the U.S. Department of Education in the form of Pell grants, Stafford loans and Perkins loans.
- Online schools offer the same student services as traditional colleges, such as tutoring, academic counseling and financial aid services.
- The variety of distance learning degree programs has exceeded in number to what is offered by many brick and mortar schools. For example, students can earn business degrees specializing in entrepreneurship or health administration degrees focusing on different hierarchical practices involved in large medical facilities. Most traditional colleges do not provide opportunities for earning these types of unique degrees.
- Because online students do not have to commute, buy gas, purchase parking permits or live on campus, the amount of financial debt incurred while earning a two, four or six year degree may be significantly lower than a traditional college debt for earning the same degree.
- For students who failed to graduate high school, a high school diploma earned online through an accredited institution is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and can be used to enroll in an online degree program.
- College credits earned online can most likely be transferred to a traditional university or another online school. As long as the credits were obtained from an accredited university and are sanctioned by the other college to which the credits are being transferred, students should experience minimal to no issues with the transfer of online credits.
- Examinations and quizzes given by online instructors are cheat-proof due to software that places time restrictions on questions and does not allow the student to exit or back out of a test. This ability to prevent students from defrauding their way to earning a degree has greatly increased the validity of online degrees since the early days of distance learning.
- Everyone interested in taking online classes can verify the accreditation status of the school they choose by accessing a comprehensive database naming all accredited higher learning programs and institutions on the U.S. Department of Education’s website.
- Master and doctorate degrees are fully obtainable through an accredited online university. Students must follow the same procedures used by traditional universities prior to acceptance into an online graduate level program and adhere to the same rigorous standards demanded by the U.S.D.E before being award of a graduate degree is granted.
Dynamic factors have been fueling the dramatic expansion of distance learning all over the world, such as the increasing need for workers with specialized knowledge. As society becomes more information-based and intrinsically dependent on digitalized technology, employers will need people who are experts in new and emerging computer science, health/medicine and biotechnology fields. In addition, employers want employees who are able to continue their education in order to remain current with advances in technology and online degree programs represent the most convenient and accessible method of obtaining continuing education opportunities.