Online college classes have become exceedingly popular options for those with scheduling complications. Online learning makes it possible for a portion of the population to get back in school or continue their education. Flexibility, cost and various conveniences make distance learning an advantageous option for many. But there are certain challenges that come along with online learning. Attending college is not necessarily a good fit for every student. But determining if it is the right option for you should not be difficult if you stop to make certain considerations.
You may find that not all employers look favorably on degrees earned from Internet-based schools. The "Los Angeles Times" did a survey of registered voters in order to gain perception into how others view online classes. Fifty-nine percent agreed that by increasing the number of online classes in California’s universities, education would be more accessible and affordable. Thirty-four percent expressed concern that expanding the number of online classes would tarnish the value of college degrees. Do some research and try to determine the number of local employers who have hired candidates with online degrees in your field.
Convenience appears to be the main reason for the steady increase of students enrolling in online classes. According to an article in Newsweek, convenience is what propelled nearly 4 million students to take at least one online course during the 2007-08 school year. And today, the numbers aren’t suggesting anything contrary. According to the Instructional Technology Council, enrollment for online learning has gone up significantly more than enrollment for campus-based classes.
Many students enrolled in online programs experience withdrawal and isolation. The lack of face-to-face interaction can cause some students to feel alienated while others may enjoy being left on their own. Online learning relies heavily on students engaging in online chat or message boards. Some students often feel isolated because they don’t sense a human connection through online communication. These students typically feel more involved in learning when they are in a physical lecture or study group with peers and a teacher.
When looking at the pros and cons of getting an online degree, pace is a subject that takes on the semblance of a coin: heads offers benefits and tails offers headaches. While one student may thrive with the freedom to learn at his own pace, other students may need a teacher holding their reins and demanding a more stringent structure. Professor Héctor Álvarez-Trujillo from Recinto de Ponce University warns that online learning has its challenges: "The most important and direct contrast with traditional education is having no set times for classes and no assigned physical place to go." He continues to warn that if a student is not disciplined enough, he may not be able to complete the work.
Jen Saunders is an entrepreneur and veteran journalist who covers a wide range of topics. She made the transition to writing after having spent 12 years in England where she studied and taught English literature.