Online education is not for everybody. In fact, it takes a special breed of student to really succeed in an online program. They must be dedicated, committed to furthering their education, and possess enough self-discipline to meet deadlines and course assignments on their own time. While any student needs to set goals and to find ways to meet them, online students have a harder time of this as it is very easy to get lazy when there are no predefined class times or attendance rules.
However, for someone willing to sacrifice some of their free time in order to take part in online discussions, read course material and work on assignments and exams, online education is quite convenient and cost effective. There may an online course fee added onto regular tuition, but other than this there are no extra costs involved unless a text is called for. Even then, however, online courses eliminate the cost of on-campus fees and transportation costs for commuters.
The convenience factor is immense. Adults with full time jobs can utilize online courses at whatever times suit them best, and students wishing to get a head start on their job searches can be fully available to work during normal on campus class hours. This can be very helpful in gaining the job experience so important for a young graduate. The portability of online instruction is also much more convenient than a traditional campus program, since students can access course pages and material from anywhere in the world with nothing more than an internet connection. In an age of ever increasing globalization as well as travel opportunities, this can be a big positive for many people who would otherwise be tied to a specific area until their on campus program was complete.
Since technology and the internet are becoming more and more prevalent even in more traditional classroom settings, using the internet to conduct entire degree and other educational programs seems to be a matter of common sense. With online research being a staple in many classes and email being an increasingly popular form of communication, the submission of assignments and papers online is relatively simple and quite easy. Online courses can be laid out in a variety of ways, and instructors can customize class pages to their liking and for the ease of students.
As to academic potential, online programs are great. There are obvious scam programs as well as programs from unscrupulous institutions, but many universities offer some form of online degree program in addition to their on campus tracks. These programs award the same degree as an on campus program would, and have the same academic merit as any other program offered by the university. Many online degrees are nearly indistinguishable from on campus degrees unless the institution is online-only or the program is specifically classified as online. As to the potential of instruction and material, this is generally dependent on the course instructor as well as the student’s study habits, and the medium used is usually irrelevant as many of the same issues and problems found in an online can take place in person as well.
My personal experience with online education has given me a very favorable opinion of it in comparison to in person learning. I have spent years at several colleges and universities struggling to work as well as attend classes that were largely outside my available timeframe. I do not drive, and as such was limited to public transit, which in my university town generally stopped before evening classes were finished. I did not want to sacrifice my income to take classes during the day, and searched for a way to keep my job and study at the same time. I came upon an online bachelor’s degree offered by Western Illinois University and never looked back. I recently graduated with a degree from an accredited university with a 3.0 GPA, and was able to tailor the program to fit my schedule and needs. I was even able to complete a semester while living and working in Scotland, something that would have been completely impossible had I continued with an on campus program. Since getting my degree I have found a very nice position with a local school and have been admitted to graduate school.
While the face to face method has its own benefits, I feel that online education is far more convenient in terms of scheduling. This is a huge benefit for adults with steady employment, and for anyone else that doesn’t want to be confined to rigid class times. While assignments still have due dates and there are often required discussions and other deadlines, these can generally be undertaken at the student’s convenience. The academic potential of these programs is generally about the same as any in person program, and online degrees are just as viable in the job market. Because of these things, I highly recommend online education.