SolveYourProblem Article Series: Online Degrees
Is An Online Degree Program For Me?


Comparing Online Degree Programs with College Campus Degrees

It is no lie that online degree programs are gaining popularity with students. With this drastic change in the education system come many concerns. The most prominent is how online degree programs compare with those offered at physical locations. Students wonder how they will stack up.

The most important thing to consider is that the school you are going to be working with online is an accredited school. There are some schools that are handing out meaningless diplomas with no accreditation attached. These “degree mills” are strictly out for your money and should be avoided. You will often get what you pay for, and if a program sounds too good to be true then there is a chance that it might be.

Many colleges will offer the same degree programs online as they do at their traditional campuses. Some will allow you to take the entire course online, while others will require class attendance for certain projects and labs. Some colleges have even found that with more students taking courses online there are smaller class sizes – allowing for more personalized attention. School budgets can also focus more on degree materials making the over all quality of the classes better.

Online schools often require their teachers to have a Master or Doctorate in the subject that they are teaching. Higher trained teachers mean a better education for you. Look for teachers with several years experience in online training.

It is a common misconception that taking courses online requires less effort and commitment than an on-campus school. This is not true. While it is true that courses can be taken when it is convenient for the student, they usually will have to put in the same amount of study time and effort. Online students also have to keep themselves motivated and on task as there is no set class schedule to keep them focused. They will still need to plan on about 15 hours a week minimum per course.

It is also a misconception that students online do not get the experience of interacting with other students. Some colleges require attendance for labs and group projects. Others encourage study groups either in person or via email and chat rooms. There are even specific websites for connecting distance-learning students to each other. Not only will you get to meet students in your own area, but also there is the possibility of meeting students from all over the world without ever having to leave your house.

A big concern with employers is whether or not a student gets enough training in working with other people when studying online. While test scores remain similar between candidates from traditional and online schools, online students do not have the day-to-day interaction and team building that comes from attending classes. In these instances, it might be helpful to look for a school that supplements online training with class or lab time.

On the other hand, employers in a more technical field will look at an online degree as a bonus. Students who have taken online degree programs are often comfortable with the ins and outs of computers and the technology that they use. They are more comfortable with the internet and word processing programs, and often already have a preference for technical jobs.

When interviewing for jobs, you will want to be aware that although employers may be familiar with online schools, they may not understand exactly how they work and the quality of education you received. While you should not try to hide how you earned your degree, it is not wise to bring it up if you are not prepared. Be ready for questions and be able to defend your schooling choice.

With all this considered, there is no guarantee that an online degree will land you a job. Just as there is no guarantee that a degree at a traditional college will land you a job. A lot of the effectiveness of an online degree will depend on your employer. Some consider it an asset, while others will still prefer a traditional degree. Before pursing an online degree, talk with business people in your desired career field and get their opinion on it. You might find that they even prefer an online degree! Always remember, too, that if there are no other options, any degree is better than not having one.

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