Online education may sound really good to you, but you’re probably concerned about it too. Is it really worthwhile? Let’s take a look at some of the myths you may be concerned about.
1. Online schools are scams.
Scams abound on the internet. There are scams in education, yes, but there are also scams when you try to shop and many other places online.
That doesn’t mean all online schools are scams. There are some excellent schools online, and even some free courses offered by major colleges such as MIT.
You should absolutely check out any school you’re considering for online courses, especially if you’re trying to learn a new job skill. Make sure the school is well regarded by potential employers. Don’t stress too much about accreditation unless you really know how to spot the right sort of accreditation for the kind of program you’re interested in.
A potential sign of a scam is when the school offers a “life experience” degree. Life experience is vital, absolutely, but a school shouldn’t offer a degree based on it. Earning a degree requires work through the school offering the degree. Your life experience should simply help you in relevant courses, not substitute for them.
2. There’s no personal interaction at online schools.
This one depends on how you define personal interaction. Certainly you aren’t going to be physically together with your instructor or classmates, but many online programs offer interaction through chats and webcams. It’s not the same as being in person, absolutely, but it’s still a chance to hear your instructor, ask questions directly and hear the questions your classmates have.
3. Employers don’t like online schools.
What your potential future employers think of your online school matters quite a bit. If they regard all graduates of that program as poorly trained, you aren’t going to have a good shot at a job. A poor quality education can effectively shut you out of a job, even if you worked hard and really did learn the necessary skills.
But employers don’t dislike all online schools. They do become aware of quality, and as more good quality schools go online, there’s more acceptance. Pay attention to the quality of the schools you consider, and particularly the quality of the exact program you want to go through, and you should be fine.
4. Online programs are easier.
There are some parts of attending an online school that are easier than attending school in person. You have more flexibility in many programs, for example, and so you don’t have to worry about your work schedule. That’s also what many find harder, as being self motivated is a lot of work.
The coursework of a good quality program won’t be easier either. If the school is emphasizing how easy their classes are, that’s not a good sign. Any good online school will have coursework that is about as hard as what you’d get if you attended classes in person.
5. Online schools are expensive.
Possibly. Some online schools are expensive. Others aren’t, especially when you consider what you won’t have to do.
No parking fees. No daycare if you have kids. Probably no stress about working your school schedule around your work schedule. Often no defined semesters – many online schools allow you to work at your own pace. If you want to finish faster, you can. Some online programs even include the cost of books in your tuition rather than requiring that you buy them separately.
Online certificate program costs vary, but assume about $2000. That’s a nice chunk of money, but less than the average one year cost of a two year college at $2963, according to CollegeBoard.com. In that light, the expense is not that bad.
Take a look at the certificate programs Career Step offers and see if one is for you.