Today, there is a noticeable trend of more and more people enrolling in online education programs than ever before. There is also a sizeable increase in the number of schools offering courses online than, say, five or ten years ago.
Some students have jumped into the bandwagon of the non-traditional approach to education by getting it online. The method might be different but the goals are, of course, the same – to further their education and expand their opportunities and advance their careers.
For a new idea, online education also has its own two sides to consider. Compared with good old on-campus education, online education must be carefully considered.
Offhand, online education looks more affordable than traditional on-campus education. First, there are tangible savings that are obvious right away.
There are savings on transportation (gas, cars, etc.), housing and meals for the simple reason that the student is not living on campus. Often, there is no need to buy expensive textbooks. Resource information can be downloaded straight from the Internet. (Some programs charge these services, however.)
Tuition costs vary greatly from school to school online. Some can be comparatively expensive (at par with on-campus institutions) but costs are actually dependent on the chosen courses. Generally, costs are competitive.
These online education programs offer the same financial aid packages available from traditional education institutions. The packages include student loans and grants.
Convenience could be the main reason why there is such a substantial growth in the online education industry these recent years. An online course has enough flexibility in study schedules which can be tailor-made to the student’s personal needs.
This set-up makes it perfect for people who are already working (full or part time), those with children to take care of, or those with other commitments.
With a computer and an Internet access, the online classroom is available 24/7. The decision on where and when to study is up to the student.
One of the unmentioned reasons for the popularity of online education is actually how this particular system levels the field. In an online degree program, there is an amount of anonymity.
Whereas in regular schools, certain discriminating factors are considered (whether tacitly or not), online schools never consider factors like age, physical disabilities, race, gender, or physical appearance.
This open policy is liberating. Some individuals who are reserved in other settings are emboldened to contribute their thoughts in an online discussion, something they cannot do in traditional live forums.
Points to consider
Apparently, the prospective online student must have a reliable computer and Internet access before he or she considers enrolling in an online education program. If the online time is limited due to financial constraints, the student will be extremely disadvantaged.
The student (and the instructor-professors) should have a minimum level of computer knowledge. Both must be comfortable with emails and discussion groups, and must know a wide array of search engines to help them wade through the Net.
The student is expected to keep up with the latest computer technology, and learn new skills in online researches, reviews, and others.
In the end, however, choosing an online education over that of the traditional one depends on the needs of the prospective student. It is an exciting new trend, and one that certainly brings new results.