When it comes to post-secondary education, there are a number of options for people who can’t, or don’t want to go the traditional route of attending on-campus classes for four years to earn a Bachelor’s degree. Luckily, these days, it’s possible to complete an entire degree online without ever stepping foot in a classroom. Over the past few years, online education has been gathering steam thanks to perks like the ability to study from home, make your own schedule and pursue an education while continuing to hold down a full time job. Many of the most prestigious schools in the world offer an online delivery option for at least a few of their courses, and don’t make distinctions between those delivered on-campus, and those delivered online.
Online education has come a long way, but there is still a stigma attached to earning a degree 100% online. As long as you make sure the school you’re enrolling at is a legitimate higher education institution and your degree will be recognized, an education you earned online would hold no less weight than one you earned in a classroom. In fact, there might even be a few advantages to learning online that a traditional education could never offer. It’s time to put the following four myths about online education to rest:
Myth 1: Online education is not challenging
Since online classes require students to be motivated and self-directed enough to keep up with coursework and class discussions on their own time, at first glance, studying online might seem too relaxed and therefore not very challenging. However – like on-campus classes – online classes also have multiple requirements, deliverables, and course goals. Assignments and exams are graded with the same rigor and standards as their brick and mortar counterparts and feature similar grading criteria. Without strong time management skills, it’s easy to fall behind. Just because a class is online doesn’t mean the material is any different. Whether a student finds a course challenging or not is entirely subjective and depends on their learning style and what their personal goals are.
There is plenty to consider before enrolling in an online degree program and your success depends on a variety of factors. Ultimately, how challenging a class really is depends on the subject, each individual student’s strengths and weaknesses and how much work they’re willing to put in — not whether it’s online or in-class.
Myth 2: The quality of online education is lower
Despite the fact that enrollment in online courses has been increasing at a rapid pace, there is still a lingering stigma surrounding 100% online degree programs. It’s important for students in distance education programs to take responsibility for their own success to get the most out of their courses. Making sure you choose a fully accredited school with degree programs that will be recognized in your industry is the key to guaranteeing the quality of your education.
The University of Europe Laureate Digital includes a network of universities that provide campus-based and online learning for students all over the world. Many of the programs offered are designed to capitalize on the benefits of online education, using innovative tools to create a digital classroom that is engaging as well as effective. Whether you’re interested in individual classes or an entire degree program, there is a quality school with a solid reputation — you just have to do your research. A study done by MIT even found that, for most people, online learning is just as effective as traditional learning. With the popularity of online learning constantly growing, delivery methods and online class environments will only continue to improve.
Myth 3: The professors aren’t accessible
Having the opportunity to speak to your professors one on one is an important facet of learning for a lot of students. But just because you can’t speak to your instructors in person, doesn’t mean they aren’t still available whenever you have a question. There are a number of best practices that online instructors are expected to adhere to, including creating a supportive online environment, being present and available to students, being clear about expectations and being open to feedback about their teaching methods.
Communication is essential to make sure students and teachers are on the same page about course expectations. Many online instructors have a set schedule in place for when they will be active in the online classroom environments so students know what to expect. Similar to in-class instructors who have weekly office hours, online instructors make sure to be accessible on a regular basis to answer questions and provide guidance.
Universities strive to hire distinguished leaders, researchers and scholars who have academic, as well as hands-on, experience in their industry. Online courses give students the opportunity to learn from the perspectives of professionals from all over the world. There may be a learning curve while students adjust to the online classroom system, but the best instructors are always available to help out and make sure their students are getting the most out of their class.
Myth 4: It’s hard to meet new people and network
Arguably, one of the most important parts of earning a degree is making connections with other people who work in the industry. Everyone knows getting a good job is partly about who you know, and meeting people through classes and networking events is a relatively painless way to get to know more people you have something in common with. The perception is that taking an online class can be kind of isolating because you don’t see your classmates at the same time every week. But depending on the kind of class you take, there’s still plenty of online discussion and group work to encourage interaction.
Instructors strive to create discussion posts that invite open conversation, so there are plenty of opportunities to talk to your classmates and instructors — you just have to prioritize participation and put yourself out there if you want to get the best results possible. All the things that make online education possible — innovative course delivery methods and communication tools like Skype, social media and free messaging services—also make making connections from all over the world a possibility.
Online education will always have its challenges, but if you’re adaptable and open-minded, there’s no reason earning a degree 100% online should be considered inferior to a campus-based program.