The choices in online education have exponentially grown over the last decade. In the beginning, there were only a handful of colleges offering a few majors through convoluted and difficult interfaces. At that time, the choice between attending an online school and a brick-and-mortar institution was a clearer choice. Today, however, the field has broadened tremendously, and with it has come an increase in opportunity and resources. Online education is being taken seriously by institutions of higher learning, and students are flocking to the opportunity to achieve their academic goals while continuing to meet their current obligations to family and career. Here are some points to consider when choosing between online and in-class attendance.
The biggest advantage that persuades many to choose an online degree program is the element of convenience. The opportunity to be free of rigid class schedules means that many who are attending classes to enhance their current career path are able to do so after work. For parents, online class work and attendance can be scheduled around the obligations of child rearing. The advantage for many students that are recently graduated from high school is that attending online opens up the availability of far away colleges without requiring an expensive and often traumatic relocation.
Information technology is one of the fastest growing job fields in the world, and online schools offer a wide variety of college degree programs for those interested in joining that market. However, there are still many degrees in the sciences and liberal arts that are not available online. Choosing a major was once a difficult choice that students could put off while fulfilling their core class requirements, but now it has become more critical to make that decision prior to enrollment. Prospective students must make the choice of schools based on the degree they desire, but the reality is that some professions can only be pursued through brick-and-mortar attendance. This is most relevant at the undergraduate level. If you are not sure what major you want to study, it may be best to attend a campus-based university, where you have the time and ability to gain exposure to a greater variety of fields of study.
There are two major opinions related to school prestige that differ on their views of its necessity. Some believe that the content of an education determines its value, while others associate college degree value with the name of the institution one has attended. This is a matter of opinion that has evidence on both sides of the argument, but it is a realistic consequence of one’s school choice. The advantages of a brick-and-mortar institution can most frequently be associated with the alumni support services and the networking that is achieved while in attendance. When physically attending a school, one’s interaction with peers and professors is much more personal and valuable to the future support of one’s academic and professional endeavors. In the online environment, everyone is geographically isolated and there is rarely any additional interaction, which means there is little chance of building friendships and professional contacts.
Deciding to attend college online or at a physical campus can be a difficult choice. Selecting between the two options should be made based on which is most complimentary to one’s individual goals and needs.
Janet Snyder is a freelance blogger, who writes about options in higher education. Herself a student, Janet recommends getting a masters degree in strategic management to help you on your career path.