Going to school is a big choice. What to study, how to pay for it, part-time vs. full-time are all choices that someone thinking about going back to school needs to consider. Today, there’s one more choice – whether to enroll in a campus-based or online degree program.
There are benefits to both and choosing which format is best is mostly about personal preference and priorities. But, to help weigh some of the decisions, below are a few of the most common misconceptions about online programs.
Myth: Students are on their own with little to no interaction with others. One of the great advantages of online degree programs is that classes can be taken when it fits the student’s schedule. This makes it easier to balance class with life’s other obligations like a job or raising kids. But, taking classes online doesn’t mean a student is going it alone. Many classes are structured so students have lots of interaction with their classmates through discussion boards and can easily get in touch with their instructors.
Myth: The quality of classes online is less than those in a campus-based program.
In the past ten years great strides have been made in online learning technologies and strategies. Wikis, advanced video use, interactive lessons and high-powered discussion forums have pushed online education to new heights in terms of quality. Plus research from non-profit associations and think tanks have shown instructors how to better engage students in an online format, making online education comparable to a traditional classroom.
Myth: Graduates with online degrees can’t find jobs. There was a time when employers were wary of online degrees. However, with an increasing amount of students enrolling in online classes and more and more work being completed in the digital space, employers have started to come around. In a September 2010 survey by the Society of Human Resource management, nearly half (49%) of HR officials surveyed responded that an online degree is equally credible to one from a traditional school. Results from the survey also showed 87 percent of HR professionals view online degrees more favorably than they did five years ago which is another positive sign for graduates from online degree programs.
Myth: Online education is a fad. According to results from the 2011 Survey of Online Learning, a collaborative effort of the Babson Survey Research Group and the College Board, released by the Sloan Consortium, the number of students taking at least one online course has now surpassed 6 million. That kind of benchmark is a definitive stamp that online learning will continue to be part of the overall education landscape. The same survey also reported 65% of higher education institutions now say that online learning is a critical part of their long-term strategy, indicating a bright future for online degree programs.
Online degree programs are not for everyone but prospective students need to know the facts about virtual learning. Knowing the truth behind the most common myths can help make the decision process easier.