You decided that it was finally time to back to school. Maybe you were counting on your promotion, but the boss wants you to have a degree first. Maybe you hate your job, but no one else will even interview you without more education. You are ready to start your new life, but you must make a choice–online or offline?
Today online college programs rival anything taught by the school downtown. To dispel the myths, you should recognize how an online college education is comparable to classroom learning. The status of online degrees has increased as more and more employers are amazed–and grateful–by what online graduates can accomplish. Additionally, online schools are subject to the same state and federal standards as traditional schools, so you are assured a quality education.
As mentioned, employers are increasingly considering online learning the best option. In fact, many businesses are sponsoring online courses that are relevant to their employees. As quoted on CNN.com, even Intel’s manager of extended corporate education says, “Our perception is that an online education from a reputable college or university is as valuable as the degree offered on-ground.” Most companies do not distinguish between an online college and a traditional college for tuition reimbursement, promotional opportunities, or continuing education requirements.
Accreditation is another reason online colleges and traditional colleges are evenly matched. To remain accredited, all schools must live up to the same governmental standards. That means that your online course will be just as engaging, thought-provoking, and applicable as a campus course. Online colleges are regularly reviewed for their graduation rates, student to faculty ratio, degree plans, and retention rates, so you can rest easily knowing you are not being scammed by a “degree mill.” By choosing a recognizable, top online school, you can make sure you are moving your career goals forward.
Now that you understand why online and traditional schools are equals, you need to consider how an online course, degree, or school supplies an even greater benefit to your life. These advantages include convenience, interaction, and speed.
Online courses often provide a greater level of convenience and flexibility than campus courses. For example, many traditional MBA degrees require full-time attendance on campus. Instead of mandating a long commute or a loss of income, online college courses let you study after the kids have gone to bed, on your lunch breaks, after your second part-time job, or whenever you have planned for the time. They are also essential for serving students in rural areas, where traditional schools may have no presence. Most programs permit either full-time or part-time study, so you can pursue your education at your pace. In addition, the fact that you are taking courses while working means that what you learn can be applied immediately.
Another advantage is that online college courses are often more engaging than their offline counterparts. You can be in class with students from down the street, across the country, or around the world, and each student will have a different take on the topic being discussed. An online course also gives you the opportunity to speak up and be heard in a non-threatening environment, which is especially important if you are shy, scared of public speaking, or just need more time to collect your thoughts. Rarely will you feel put on the spot or unfairly criticized for an unpopular point. You will have more effective dialogues during class chats or on message boards because you are currently living what you are learning.
A third benefit of attending an online school is the speed at which you can graduate. Online schools teach as much as traditional schools but often in an accelerated format. While the average undergraduate degree at a traditional school takes four years or longer to complete, many online degrees can be completed in two to three years. In many cases, you can also focus on one course at a time instead of juggling work, home, and several different subjects.
Online programs are the future. In fact, even Harvard University, which does not offer online degrees, has begun requiring preparatory online courses for incoming MBA students. If Harvard trusts in the power of an online education, you should too. Use your online college education to get the job–and the life–you deserve.
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