online colleges: technology meets education

by Dr. Thomas Slater

You see advertisements for them every day: “Get your online bachelors degree at your convenience and get a better job.” And in fact, if done right, an online university can provide you just the education you need, without having to significantly alter your life to make room for a class schedule. This is because you can take classes online at your convenience, at night, or whenever you can schedule some free time. This makes it much easier to hold down a full-time job, take care of your children, or any other number of things you would have to juggle if you were to go back to school full time on a traditional campus.

However, there are some drawbacks to an online training. First of all, you have to make sure that your school is accredited. Most employers will not honor degrees that have been gotten from schools (online or traditional) without accreditation. Because online education (also called “distance learning”) is gaining in popularity and in recognition as a legitimate education means, more and more organizations are now giving online schools accreditation, so that a degree you earn from an online university is every bit as good as one you earn in a traditional campus.

However, this isn’t always so, and you have to make sure that it is true before you waste your hard-earned assets on an online associates degree. How do you determine whether or not a university is accredited? Check the regional accreditation board in the area where your particular university is physically located. If it has not been recognized by this accreditation board, it’s not legitimate at least in regard to what sort of certification or degree it will offer you, and you should look elsewhere.

Once you do find an accredited degree program that has the training you want, you can apply for financial aid to actually “attend” classes there. It used to be true that for students to qualify for financial aid, you had to complete at least 50% of your education on a traditional campus. This is no longer true, however, and the school itself should be able to help you apply for financial assistance much in the way a traditional university can.

Finally, online colleges have one step backward over traditional schools, and that is that you do not have to physically show up for classes. Yes, this is an advantage in terms of your scheduling, but it also means that you have to be completely disciplined for your own “attendance” and completion of assignments. Therefore, if you’re not self-motivated enough to make sure you complete your assignments on time and follow the syllabus ver batim, an online college is probably not for you.

If you are conditioned and have no problem with self-motivation, then an online degree program may be just the ticket. You should be able to complete your associates degree with much less inconvenience, and without having to significantly disrupt your life. This, in turn, can help you find that dream job you’ve been looking for all your life.

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