With an ever-growing population of students seeking higher education, many are left wondering whether or not online learning can offer the same advantages as a traditional college experience. While the majority of those going to college are between the ages of 18-24, millions of adults aged 25 or older continue to join them, making up roughly one third of enrolled students in the United States. Among these millions of students, at least 30% of them have taken an online class, with a majority of traditional universities now including online learning opportunities in their curriculum.
It’s clear that the internet has had an amazing impact on education, but is that a good enough reason to consider seeking schooling through an MOOC (Massive Open Online Course)? Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of higher online education:
One of the top advantages of enrolling in an MOOC is the amount of flexibility students have, which instantly makes it a more welcoming alternative to a traditional education. In today’s economy, it’s becoming ever so more difficult to balance receiving a full college education as well as have a successful full-time career.
Rather than having to work around your current schedule to attend a class, MOOCs allow students to choose how many hours they want to commit to a class each week, as well as how quickly they want to finish a class. Best of all, the majority of MOOCs are offered at no cost to the student, are in English, short, and not followed-up with an exam.
Higher online education gives you an unprecedented amount of control over your schooling. Nobody will hold your hand through the process, as you will be expected to finish schoolwork on your own time and handle your own affairs. For those who prefer the independent experience of setting your own schedule, this is definitely a positive aspect of online schools.
Whenever you want to do your assignments or are concerned about due dates or expectations of a certain class, you’ll easily be able to access them over the internet. Instant access to every aspect of your education is an excellent benefit of online education.
When it comes to traditional universities, you are pretty much limited to what courses and degrees your school offers. However, in the case of online schools, they typically offer a much wider variety of educational options. If you have a desire to learn more about a subject and your local university doesn’t offer any classes in that area, chances are that you’ll be able to find a source of online education to satisfy your desires.
Although there are now many respectable online universities and most traditional colleges offer online coursework, there is still a stigma surrounding higher online education. A degree earned via this method might not be as highly respected as a certificate from a conventional school. That being said, most employers report that they do value an online degree.
Even though online education offers a greater level of accessibility than traditional colleges, there is a noticeable lack of both physical and social interaction. This might not be a big deal for some students, but for others, it’s important to be able to contact their professor and discuss educational matters with them. Online instructors usually serve a very limited role, which can restrict your connection with them. Asking questions mid-lecture isn’t possible when most lectures are pre-written and pre-recorded.
Conventional universities offer specialized advising and regimented weekly classes. Needless to say, you won’t always find this with higher online education, as you are expected to set your own schedule and complete coursework within a set amount of time. The structure is much less rigid, meaning that it will be important for you to have a high level of self discipline and avoid falling behind on school work.
There are many issues that go along with being on the cutting edge of education. In addition to the previously discussed poor reputation that comes with the experience, you may also have trouble getting financial aid and transferring credits between schools. Because of the stigma attached to online schooling, many traditional universities do not accept credits earned from an online university.
Needless to say, there are many positives and negatives to weigh when considering higher online education. In the end, the most important thing to consider is what you expect to get out of this undertaking. Your choice of schooling should be based on the type of educational experience you wish to have. If you’re more hands on, a traditional college may be your best bet. However, if you prefer to do things in your own time, an online university could be an excellent option. Keep these concepts in mind as you go forth and further explore your educational future.
Submitted by: Nick Rojas
Nick Rojas is an online journalist and tech-enthusiast who can always be found typing away at his computer. He enjoys discussing how technology has forever impacted the education system, as well as how it will affect the education of future generations.