By Chris Nelson
The history of online education includes its share of ups and downs. A new trend is always bound to attract a certain amount of skepticism. The early years of online education were hindered by the negative impact of degree and accreditation "mills."
However, with the emergence of strict accreditation guidelines and the entrance of many prestigious schools offering a wide spectrum of online programs, the stigma so long attached to online learning is fast disappearing. Online learners are also learning to power their careers with an online degree, developing skills and building successful, fulfilling careers, meeting and exceeding the expectations of employers.
The truth is that employees and employers alike recognize the advantages of online career training. Advanced education is now available in a broad array of disciplines, while offering the time management flexibility that is so important to people with difficult schedules or limited access to traditional schools. Online learning provides a valuable learning experience to those who require more flexibility in their studies, including:
- Working adults
- Individuals living in remote areas
- Members of the military
- Individuals with child care or elderly care responsibilities
- Individuals with disabilities
You can choose from hundreds of programs that can enhance your training and put you on the path to a better career. According to the Sloan Consortium, of all schools that offer an MBA, over 40 percent offer the same degree online. This shows that no matter where you live, you can access quality online education, as an increasing number of traditional schools have taken their curriculum to the Web.
For those who are highly self-motivated and self-disciplined, and who possess good reading, writing and time management skills, online learning is a beneficial alternative.
So what about the old dangers of getting your degree online?
While you should always do your homework on the schools you are considering, it is comforting to know that accreditation standards have tightened the qualifications for degree-granting institutions. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) monitors accreditation associations and the schools that they support. For both national and regional accreditation lists, the CHEA maintains a database of approved schools on their Web site: www.chea.org. Read more about online school accreditation.
Is an online education as good as a traditional one?
A common misconception with online learning is that an online program is a different curriculum from the same course offered at a campus. In actuality, online learning is simply an alternative delivery tool, not a diluted curriculum. For the majority of accredited online schools, the learning objectives are the same as for campus-based programs, and the same faculty usually teaches both online and campus programs. Online programs are held to a high standard of academic integrity, and they are subject to strict monitoring to maintain that standard.
Also, online programs often provide the same academic resources made available through traditional schools to assist students in their studies. These tools and resources may include:
- Admissions assistance
- Academic advising and registration
- Tutoring services
- Career resources
- Computer services and technical support
- Information and library services
With the monetary benefit of having a higher degree or certification, and the variety of options available for learning online, online education is a valuable and flexible opportunity. Start your search today, and get on the path to a new, more fulfilling career!