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Online University Courses - Online University Courses – Are They for You? - The Good, The Bad

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More and more universities are offering classes completely online, and some have even launched entire self-contained degree programs on the web. Today, it is entirely possible to earn a college degree in your pajamas while sitting in your living room. But are these programs all that they’re cracked up to be? Here’s a look at the good and bad sides of online education to help you decide whether or not it will work for you. With so many university courses online today, it is worth taking a good look.

The Good

Convenience
The reigning king of reasons to go with online coursework is the pure convenience that it offers. Most online classes require no physical presence whatsoever, so all you need is a computer and an internet connection. This is a great help to families with kids, people living in rural areas, or people who just don’t like getting up at 8:00 am every day.

Tuition Cost
The cost to schools for offering online education is a world away from that of on-site education. As a school, all you need to teach students online is some talented course designers and a few teachers that know their way around internet technology. So online class tuition is usually a lot cheaper than tuition for physical classes.

Think about it. For on-site students, you need to build and maintain huge physical facilities to house them, you need offices for the teachers, you need food and dining operations, and the list goes on and on. As one of these students, you’re helping to pay for all of these overhead expenses.

The cheaper tuition costs can be great for new families, starving students who work for a living, or people who want to train for a career change while still at their old jobs.

Wide Access
There are a huge variety of internet courses to choose from, offered by hundreds of schools around the country and even the world. You can take anything from single-serving courses at a local college to full diploma course programs from DeVry University or Westwood College.

The Bad

Limited Faculty Interaction
One major drawback of online colleges is the lack of personal interaction with a teacher. Sure, there’s email. And some courses even feature full-length lecture courses on video for you to study. But for some people, that just isn’t as good as being in the same room with the instructor.

The best online courses will do whatever they can to overcome this barrier, offering many avenues of communication between students and teachers, even including video chat and live online lectures.

Lack of Social Support
Another major issue for many prospective online students is the lack of the social interaction with other people. For many, the experience of going college together with other students is just as important as the education itself. It can be hard to arrange cram-sessions when your fellow students are scattered all over the country!

Cannot Cover Experience-intense Classes
Many subjects just don’t lend themselves to online study. There are always some classes that can be posted online in every field of study. But for things like culinary arts, automotive mechanics, pilot training, and other subjects where field experience is absolutely necessary, having an all-online program is next to impossible.

Lack of Physical Facilities
One big perk of established universities is that they offer physical facilities to further your studies. The giant libraries, the free study areas, the science lab, and all the other locational perks won’t do you any good while you’re sitting in your living room five states away. This is why for many courses of study it’s a good idea to start looking local first. That way, you can do the majority of classes online if you wish, but you still have the option of hitting campus every now and then.

Can Be Harder to Stay on Track
Like many wanna-be freelance workers, as soon as you actually start working on your own schedule, you find out that you’re a really weak taskmaster! If you have a course that has no real deadline and is just “finish at your own pace”, you’ll quickly find that you need to make your own deadline and stick to it, or else nothing will ever get done! It takes a certain extra amount of self-motivation and determination in order to succeed with online courses, because you really are working on your own time now.

Conclusion: Is an Online University Course Right for You?

Look at the list of pros and cons and ask yourself whether online university courses will work for your field of interest. And beyond that, look at your own personality and expectations for college work. Is the social aspect of interacting with students and teachers on a regular basis important to you? Or are you comfortable with having purely online interaction?

If you decide to go for it, you can find hundreds of online resources to help you locate a course that will work for you. Sites like Online-Education.net can help you search the nation by degree, college, and location to find out what’s available for you. It’s also a great idea to look up your local colleges’ web site to see what they offer in online coursework.

Make sure you find a college with reputable courses. If you can find someone who has been through an online program there, ask them about their experiences. Do your research, be realistic about what you want, and dive in!

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