What You Need to Know When Considering an Online Education

By: Mary Pagay

There are a number of accredited universities and colleges where you can pursue an online education. However, an online education may or may not be the right thing for you. There are many factors to consider when making these important decisions.

What You Need to Know When Considering an Online Education

Online Education Can Offer Many Advantages

An online education can offer a student a tremendous degree of freedom and convenience. It’s also a lot cheaper than attending on-campus courses. But, it may not be everyone’s cup of tea. What you want to do when looking toward taking coursework through the Internet is write down the pros and cons. For one person, the Internet courses will be a godsend, and for others it would be their downfall. What’s right for you is determined by what you are out to achieve. So, the first thing you want to do is to do your homework. Write down the pros and cons, and tally up the scores.

For some people (though not for everyone) Internet based courses offer the following advantages: flexible time schedule; less expensive route of education; a way to maintain a certain level of anonymity; allows an individual to hold down a job while attending classes; no need to seek out daycare facilities for the student’s babies; and you can sit in front of the computer in your PJs and no one is offended.

Take Great Care in Selecting an Online School

That having been said, we ask ourselves what could possibly be considered a drawback to taking courses online. First off, you want to be sure that whichever school you obtain coursework through is accredited and that any degree you obtain through them will be honored for either higher education or a possible job opportunity. You don’t want to spend money and time working through a school that is not accredited because it will end up being a big waste in the long run. Carefully check the school’s reputation because fraud is easier done online. Be sure that any degree you receive online will be the equivalent of the degree given for on-site coursework, and that it is not a watered-down version of the campus degree.

Some Pros and Cons of Learning Online

Besides money and credibility, there are other subtle differences that are possible between going on campus and going online for coursework or a degree. For one thing, while some people thrive on anonymity, others do better in a face-to-face learning environment where there is an active integration between students and faculty. In campus courses, discussions, workshops, and student interactions often make learning more interesting and more digestible. This also helps in the student’s overall grades. The trade-off between convenience and anonymity is a bigger issue than what appears on the surface – and while anonymity seems nice, it may actually be a deterrent to a better education and higher grades.

Online education has its good points, but it deprives the student of the social life that makes a college education a memorable experience. The student that interacts with other students and faculty in a healthy one-to-one is much more likely to enjoy the overall student experience than the individual who sits in front of the computer and interacts with a machine. Online education saves money, but it does not offer the same experiences, challenges, memories and overall learning environment that being on campus offers. And, even though it can get you the degree you’re looking for, you can end up feeling somewhat deprived with the sense that although online learning is cheaper, you may end up getting only what you pay for. And there could be regrets later on for having missed out on the college experience. But, that is a subjective statement – and what’s right for one, may not be right for another. The only way you can tell is to write down the pros and cons and weight them according to how important each pro or con is to you, personally. Then, and only then, can you determine if you really want the online or the on campus learning experience.

By Mary Pagay, a writer at Helium.com

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