Yesterday I met someone who expressed an interest in going to Online College. My first reaction upon hearing this was an overwhelming sense of skepticism. As someone who was fortunate enough to have the time and means to attend a traditional university, the idea of not having face-to-face contact with a professor and other students seems strange. This personal bias has only been exacerbated by spam emails that keep showing up in my in-box! And don’t even get me started on the cheesy infomercials that practically have the production quality of Ms. Cleo, the psychic. No offense, Ms. Cleo.
All that aside, it was Herbert Spencer who once said, “There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance – that principle is contempt prior to investigation”
Instead of immediately writing off the idea of online college, I decided to do some investigation of my own. A quick Google search of “online college” revealed 115 million hits! I’ll do my best to summarize each of those pages… or I’ll simply provide a brief synopsis of the ins and outs of online degree programs. Hopefully, this will assist you in determining if Online College is the best option for you.
As you can imagine, the main allure of Online College is the incredible convenience of being able to do coursework at anytime, and in any location with an Internet connection. This convenient access is especially well suited for individuals unable to commit to traditional classroom learning due to work/family responsibilities or other impediments.
You may think that going online is financially advantageous; but online programs are not necessarily cheaper than traditional programs. As with traditional higher-level education, tuition costs vary immensely. For example, the more expensive programs, such as Penn State’s 2-year MBA program, will cost a whopping $55,656! Mind you, this is a “hybrid” model combining online coursework with some regular classes. Alternatively, a less prestigious, exclusively online program such as Argosy University’s 2-year MBA degree will cost $23,865. This is roughly the cost of an MBA at the average low cost state school. If your future job prospects are more dependent on having an MBA rather than the pedigree of the degree, go ahead and save some money.
Pursuing an online degree may be an especially more cost-effective option for certain individuals who qualify for government/employer-based scholarships. There are awesome financial incentives for active members of the armed forces, veterans, and for individuals eligible for employer assistance tuition programs. If you fall into one of these categories, online coursework may be a viable option that could potentially save you thousands of dollars!
3. IS THIS THE EDUCATION I WANT?
Another important factor to consider is whether a distance-learning model will provide the training you desire. Let’s face it, a diploma is great but if you don’t acquire the necessary skills along the way, it’s just an expensive piece of paper. You can actually skip the whole “school” part and easily buy a fake transcript and degree. Seriously though, I nearly hurled after stumbling upon www.fast-degrees-online.com. I assume this is not what you are looking for so let’s get back to the issue of training.
If you are pursing a Degree that necessitates face-to-face interaction (e.g. Masters in Clinical Psychology), an online program may not provide what you require. However, if you are interested in pursing a field that is more virtual environment friendly (e.g. Masters in Computer Science or Masters in Business Administration), online college may be the way to go.
Well, there you have it, folks. Hopefully this post has helped you start to determine whether Online College is for you. Next time, I’ll be discussing how to pick the best online program based upon accreditation and the potential long-term payoffs