Is Online College *Really* A Good Way To Go? The Pros

You can't go anywhere without seeing the ads. University of Phoenix. Strayer University. DeVry. Walden College. For busy moms who want to advance in the workforce or just keep their skills afloat, going to college online might seem like a good idea. But, is it *really*? Let's take a look at the pros and cons.

First, the 'pros':

Flexibility. You take your classes when and where you want-at home at 2 am, the coffee shop at 2 pm, on vacation-it's all up to you. For people with kids or jobs, this is immensely helpful. As long as you get your work in by the deadlines set in the class, you're fine. Also, the 'online' format allows people to take classes from all over the world as opposed to being restricted to the colleges they can commute to.

Cost. This, along with flexibility, is probably the most attractive thing about online colleges. Not only do you save on 'usual' expenses like dorms and meal plans, you don't have to pay for commuting expenses like gas and wear and tear on your car.

Degrees come more quickly. You learn at your own pace. While online schools may have structured programs, they're usually not as 'fixed' as traditional schools in terms of prerequisites, timing, etc. You can customize your own program.

Find everything in one place. When a course is taken online, the lectures, study aids and discussions are always available for review. You don't have to rely on your own notes or memory the way you would in a 'traditional' college. You also don't have to worry about running out of paper or 'room' on your tape recorder, because the notes are right there for you to review at your leisure. Since a lot of people communicate better in writing than verbally, the 'forum' format for class discussions can be very helpful. Even the shyest person can get a word in.

The courses available. How many times have you heard someone talk about how they would really like to go to X college, but it didn't have the program they were looking for? This isn't a problem with online colleges. Since there are so many programs available, you can 'shop around' for schools to find exactly what it is you want to study without having to relocate, pay 'out-of-state' costs, etc. Since there are specific certificate programs available as well as bachelor's and master's degrees, you can train for a particular career without necessarily having to take classes you'll never use.

Technology. Rather than being restricted to lecture halls, you have more access to multi-media forms of instruction.

Solitary learning. This can be both a 'pro' and a 'con', depending on how you look at it. You don't have to be around people, which can be good for extreme introverts or people with anxiety issues. Some people find the idea of being surrounded by people 10 or 20 years younger intimidating. You won't have to worry about being in a group where everyone else is messing around while you do all the work.

Employer esteem. As online colleges become more popular, employers are more likely to consider the degrees 'legitimate' than they were in the past.
I'm covering the 'cons' in another post.

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