Finding the Best Online College

by Martin A. David

Online universities and colleges are an important and growing part of the educational landscape. Recent studies by organizations such as the North American Council for Online Learning (NACOL) show that almost half of all secondary school students would like to complete their higher education through online degree programs or distance learning courses. Similar studies show that parents, advisors and educators also favor this trend.

Online education options are typically most appealing to students who are already in the workforce and looking to change or advance their careers, earn more money and improve their job prospects. Such students often have career and family obligations that prevent them from attending on-campus day or evening classes.

The Pros of Online Learning

Online degree programs and distance learning classes allow students to work from home on a computer, providing the flexibility they need. Some courses do require scheduled online “meetings,” but most of them allow students to work at their own pace and on their own schedule. More pros of earning a degree online:

  • Demonstrates resourcefulness, self-discipline and determination in completing degree from home while balancing a job and/or family.
  • Often less expensive than attending a traditional college or university.
  • Exams, tests and evaluations are provided virtually at a scheduled date.
  • Students can interact with each other in the form of a chat, instant message or email, which allows everyone to participate comfortably.
  • Instructors are readily accessible through email.

The Cons of Online Learning

For students eager to experience the social aspect of attending a college or university, online schools are not the best option. Some students may find distance learning to be an isolating experience that lacks a level of interaction they desire with professors and other classmates. Additionally, if they are interested in developing skills that require hands-on practice or lab work, online courses are not usually available.

Online learning is still relatively new. Though this isn’t a con to some, it may take some time for all traditionalists to fully understand the scope of its benefits.

If you are struggling between the pros and cons of online degrees, ask yourself which option best fits your lifestyle and situation.

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