Distance learning is becoming increasingly popular in today’s society. With increases in technology and globalization through the Internet, opportunities are growing, and more people can gain access to college education through online degrees. In previous times, for an adult who wanted to make a better life for himself, options were few. Distance learning, however, has opened a door to a whole new strategy for self-improvement and advancing to a better career.
There are benefits to distance learning that a campus cannot offer. For one, it usually costs significantly less to obtain a degree online. The cost of the traditional campus experience can include gas, lodging and meals, not to mention the rising tuition costs for traditional universities.
The convenience of Internet learning is impossible to beat. Distance education lends itself to the schedule of the learner. The student can usually choose his own pace, time of day and days of the week to work. Rather than conforming to set class times, students in online programs have greater independence than those attending traditional colleges.
Even with all the advantages of distance learning, one should not overlook the possible drawbacks. Communication can be a problem. Depending on the university, one may have limited interaction with his professor. Sometimes, e-mail queries to individual professors go unanswered, and not all online universities offer any further contact options, such as work phone or online chat availability. And, because of the lack of a physical campus for many online degree programs, a student can’t simply drop by or call at office hours. However, with cheap calling rates via the Internet, professors may increasingly be available by phone in the future.
Another problem one might run in to is the stigma associated with online degrees. Being sure your choice is an accredited educational institute is easy to check, but that’s not where the problem ends. Because there are so many online-based universities that are “get-a-degree-in-ten-days” and lack accreditation, it’s hard to explain the legitimacy of your own program. While they’re still not considered as credible as traditional college degrees, people are beginning to accept the legitimacy of online degree programs.
Distance learners need to be self-motivated. Sometimes the lack of structure, classroom teaching or consistent feedback can be obstacles in the process. None of which cannot be overcome. To begin a degree program shows a level of self-motivation necessary to succeed, and keeping up with the work is essential to completion. A certain drive is needed to make the online learning experience work. This is not necessarily a disadvantage.
There are both pros and cons to the distance learning degree program. In my opinion, there also exists a ‘best of both worlds’ scenario: an already reputable campus-based university with a degree program that allows you to complete the entire course load online. One still saves on costs and can still participate at times of their own convenience. It also holds some advantages of the traditional college as well such as communication (campus-based university professors are required to have office hours, which one can call or physically visit the campus to interact with professors) and credibility.
Having weighed both sides of the issue, I believe that distance learning is worth the risks in order to achieve pursuit of an advanced degree. Not everyone can go to traditional campus schools, but that shouldn’t keep them from pursuing the education that will help them succeed.