Pros and Cons of Online College Degree Programs
There are a lot of options for students considering enrollment in an online degree program. For example, a student just starting his or her postsecondary education may earn an applied associate's degree in their specific field of interest or a general associate's degree that transfers to a 4-year program. Working professionals may be interested in online graduate programs, such as a Master of Business Administration, in order to advance their careers. Online degree programs come with both advantages and disadvantages.
There are a variety of advantages to earning a degree online, including the flexibility of these programs, the cost-saving elements of studying from home and the ability to study at any college in the country without traveling.
Many online degree programs use asynchronous learning, which means that a distance learning student doesn't need to be online at the same time as his or her instructors. This allows students to complete their coursework any time, any place and around any busy schedule. Also, while most online degree programs have a timetable for completing the coursework, deadlines are usually much more flexible for online students.
Tuition for online degree programs may be the same, or sometimes less, than their on-campus counterparts, and online programs also typically save students money in other areas. Online students don't have to relocate to attend school, and they can save money on costs like commuting and childcare. Furthermore, many learning materials are offered in digital formats, such as e-books, that often cost less than their physical counterparts.
Students who live in a small town or rural area without many colleges or universities may have limited on-campus education options. Online degree programs give them access to hundreds more potential institutions - all without leaving the comfort of their home.
Despite the many advantages of online learning, there are also some disadvantages to pursuing a degree remotely. Those who have trouble working in solitude or managing their time may find online programs challenging.
Students who struggle to force themselves to complete unpleasant tasks or assignments may not have the motivation to complete an online education program. There's no one to hold them accountable for deadlines or lectures, and students may find it harder to get work done in this environment.
Online students have the chance to communicate with their professors and fellow students through e-mail, chat and online forums. However, telecommunication can't replace face-to-face interactions. For many people, college is an opportunity to gain valuable social experiences, and online students miss out on these chances in a distance learning degree program.
These days, online degree programs are offered by many reputable colleges and universities, but there are also thousands of scams out there. Prospective online students should be careful to avoid the diploma mills and degree programs that won't be accepted by future employers or other educational institutions. It's important for online learners to check the accreditation of their prospective programs and conduct some research to ensure that the school's policies are legal and legitimate.
Lack of Hands-On Training
There are some degree programs that either aren't available online or shouldn't be completed online due to the importance of hands-on training. Nursing, for example, is a field that typically requires clinical experience that just can't be achieved on the Internet. However, many institutions now offer blended programs that allow students to complete a portion of their coursework online and commute to a local campus for clinical courses and other hands-on experiences. Some of these programs may require that applicants already hold another degree or have prior work experience.