The good and the bad
Pros of Online Degrees
- Avoid the Campus. Campus life can be a great experience when you're young and free. However, if you're older and are more interested in upgrading your skills or pursuing an interest than partying, being on campus may be more distracting than it is worthwhile. Many schools offer night classes aimed at older professionals, but taking courses online often makes the most sense. After all, who wouldn't want to do their learning from the comfort of home?
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- Learn As Slow as You Want. The ability to control the pace of learning is what many people find very attractive about acquiring an online degree. If you're the type of learner who likes to take things slow, or you're just too busy with other aspects of your life to devote your full concentration to a course, online learning may be a good option for you. You'll have the power to set your own schedule and to move through course material at your own pace, without fear of being left behind.
- Learn as Fast as You Want. And remember, while online learning may be attractive to slower learners, it's also true for the opposite. Fast learners are gravitating toward online study because at allows them to learn without wasting any time. Why wait 13 weeks for a professor to run through his or her lecture schedule when you can complete the course materials in 10 weeks, or even less?
- Study Night or Day. A huge benefit from online learning is that it can be done at any time of day. Whether you're the kind of person who wants to hit the books at the crack of dawn or you're more of a night owl who wants to study before bed, online learning can easily be adapted to fit your personal schedule.
- Be Anywhere You Want. It's not always possible to pick up and move for the sake of education, but with online learning you won't have to. Geographical barriers will no longer be a factor, as you can access colleges and universities worldwide from your own home.
- A Quick and Easy Way to Upgrade Skills. If you already have a career and want to take courses to upgrade your skills, it's hard to imagine a more efficient method than learning online. The courses won't interfere with your work or family obligations, and they're a great way to build your resume and to get ahead in your field.
Cons and Precautions
- No Face-to-Face Interaction. Direct personal interaction between pupil and teacher isn't possible in online learning, as all communication is virtual (taking place via e-mail and discussion forums). Because of this, many people still believe it doesn't fall under the traditional, philosophical definition of education. Some students of online institutions have reported feeling isolated and unmotivated.
- Technological Requirements. Not everyone has a computer or regular access to the Internet, and many lack the technical knowledge to implement the software required for online learning.
- Age Restrictions. Some online programs require you to be 25 or older to enroll.
- The Misconception that Online Degree Programs are Easier. The subject material in online degree programs is the same as in campus programs. In fact, online programs may be harder because they require more independent thought and help is not always readily available.
- Diploma Mills and "Life Experience Degrees". The simple truth is there are many online learning scams on the Internet. Degree mills (or diploma mills) are companies set up by people who are interested in only one thing - your money. They look and act like online schools, but by no measure are they legitimate learning institutions. Essentially, these shady companies award phony degrees for "life experience," without requiring students to do any studying or learning at all. When researching schools, watch out for these red flags: the promise of a degree within in 30 or 60 days, a pricing policy stated prominently on the front page of their website, or the "school" only wants the information your credit card and not your test scores or academic credentials. Learn all you can about accredited online degrees, "life experience" degrees and spotting degree mills to protect yourself from being scammed online.
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