Some people, including several who write for Helium, have boasted that they have earned numerous bachelor’s and master’s degrees from online “universities.” I haven’t done any deep detective work on the claims, but just by the number of them piled up by a single person, they can’t have much value in the real world.
Of course, online education can be just as valuable as a brick and mortar alma mater. In fact, in addition to my own education, I was on a university faculty for several years. During my own student days and as a university faculty member, I knew many students who spent four or more years in so-called higher education without learning anything more than how to party and cheat on exams. Hmmm, I believe we have a current high-ranking politician or two (not named here) who did the same in their student years.
However, the great majority of students were there and are now at other universities to learn. I believe this is also possible with online education resources. Serious studying alone with your computer takes at least as much concentration and discipline as sitting in a regular college classroom. If the courses and the online school are legitimate, there’s every chance for good learning experiences by the motivated enrollee.
The line between traditional college and online education is blurring more every day. Now, even the most prestigious colleges and universities offer combination schedules which allow students to complete much of the required work online and the rest in residency.
My suggestion for someone considering an online education, particularly if a traditional degree is the goal, is to start researching online courses offered by well-known, established universities and colleges. Be aware that the schedule is almost certain to include at least some on-campus residency time to complete the degree requirements. If those big school courses don’t include what the person wants for future career use, then it may be necessary to check out other website education programs that do include the special fields required.
The prospective college-level student, particularly one who will soon graduate or has recently graduated from high school, should certainly confer with school faculty and advisers. This should be done before making any financial or other commitments for online education.