While online schools and distance learning has come a long way in the past five to fifteen years, there is still a gap between the “real world” schools and the digital equivalent. Leaving aside the actual quality of the online schools, prospective employers are still less likely to consider online degrees as valuable as degrees from a brick-and-mortar school, and financial aid sources are still less likely to provide assistance to students of online schools.
Now for the good news: there are more online schools, offering more options and higher quality than ever. When the right person is matched with the right educational opportunity, the results can be many times better than the cookie-cutter, in-and-out experience that many students have in brick-and-mortar universities.
All of which begs the question:are you the right person, and can you find the right online school?
Think of your career and/or personal needs. Will this education fulfill a lifelong idle wish to learn to read Finnish in your spare time, or do you need it to qualify for the next level of promotion at your current job? Are you trying to give yourself skills that you believe you will need to broaden your career goals, or do you just believe that you cannot live with yourself until you have a Bachelors’ Degree…in anything?
Now examine the type of structure and contact that you require to make the most of your education. Would you prefer the traditional school format augmented by some minor Internet communication and resources, or are you going for a fully digital experience with no physical classroom or resources necessary? Do you need monthly, weekly, daily, or minute-by-minute contact and assessment by an educational mentor, or can you do all of your own research and testing by yourself?
On a related not, take a good hard look at your own personal abilities. Would you say you are a whiz with online resources, and need no external assistance? Perhaps you are comfortable with electronic materials but desire educational assistance from someone in the field. On the other hand, perhaps you need some human assistance with both online technology AND your chosen course of study. Now be very honest…do you doubt that you could complete an online course of study without significant assistance?
Wherever you fall on those three categories determines how much you can expect to get from an online school. If you take into account all of these factors and really spend some time searching for the right place you should be able to further your education rather painlessly. This will help improve your life in many ways including the possibility of a better job and higher salary. Who doesn’t think those are great benefits?