Online universities are growing in leaps and bounds, but they do have their down sides. For students who are thinking about continuing their education with an online university, they should think about issues such as the high cost, researching the university’s accreditation, and whether online learning is compatible with their learning style.
High cost – Higher education is expensive, there’s no denying that. The cost of getting a degree can have graduates paying off student loans for years to come, affecting their livelihood well into their adult life. Online universities can be even more expensive than many of our prestigious private colleges that are located across the country. Some charge as much as $1,000 per credit hour or more, so a 120-hour bachelor’s degree program could cost more than buying a new home! Granted, a degree is an investment into our future, but we should exhaust all other avenues of higher education before sinking that kind of money into a degree that we can get at a state college for a fraction of the cost.
Accreditation – Colleges and universities must be accredited for a degree from their institution to really mean anything. There are specific accrediting bodies in the United States that are responsible for evaluating each school and granting or denying accreditation. Also, you should be sure that your credits will transfer to another school. If you choose to take additional degree programs in the future or want to change schools, you will have to retake any classes that aren’t transferable. Generally, if the accreditation is in place this is not an issue, but you should be sure before registering for classes.
Compatibility – Finally, students should be sure that online learning is the right way to learn for their individual learning style. Independent learners tend to do well in online classes. However, those students who need specific direction or live lectures to grasp certain concepts may want to explore their options in a more traditional university setting. Online learning is structured, but can be difficult if the student is not motivated. Students in online classes should log on every day with few exceptions to be sure that they are keeping up and to stay motivated. Falling behind just a little can have disastrous results.
Online learning is becoming increasingly popular as a wider variety of the public seeks higher education. But it isn’t for everyone, so be sure to research all avenues before impulsively jumping into the online learning experience.