How Much Do You Know About Online School?

relaxing online student

By Sarah Stevenson

As online schools continue to grow in popularity, some pernicious myths about e-learning and distance education are getting re-examined—and debunked.

Many prospective students are now aware that online programs provide an appealing alternative to traditional classroom education for those seeking flexible learning hours and affordable career training.

But do you know just how many students are opting for online school, or what degrees and courses are available? How well-versed are you in online education?

  • 5 – 6 Correct: Graduate degree
  • 2 – 4 Correct: Certificate holder
  • 0 – 1 Correct: Go back to school!

1. What percentage of college students are pursuing at least part of their education online?

  1. 4%
  2. 7%
  3. 15%
  4. 25%

2. Which of the following statements about online schools is false?

  1. Online classes can be self-paced, accelerated or structured within a traditional campus schedule.
  2. Online school provides far fewer opportunities for personal interaction and one-on-one communication than traditional education.
  3. Online students are eligible for many of the same types of financial aid and scholarships as students in traditional programs.
  4. Credits and degrees from accredited online schools are widely accepted by traditional institutions and potential employers.

3. Online schools serve which of the following types of students?

  1. Members of the U.S. military
  2. Students already enrolled in traditional programs
  3. Parents of young children returning to school
  4. All of the above

4. Which of the following degrees can you earn from an online program?

  1. Associate's degree in Business Finance
  2. Bachelor's degree in Graphic Design
  3. PhD degree in Computer Science
  4. All of the above
  5. None of the above

5. Online schools offer a tremendous variety of courses. Which of the following is not a real online class?

  1. The Human Right to Adequate Food
  2. Traditional Chinese Medicine
  3. Chocolate-Making for the Nutrition Professional
  4. Psychology and Sociology of Disasters

6. Which of the following schools offers online education?

  1. San Joaquin Valley College
  2. Cornell University
  3. DeVry University
  4. All of the above


1. Answer: d. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, there were over 5.4 million students taking online classes. The number of students taking no online classes at all was over 15,695,000. This means that over 25 percent of college students were taking some classes online.

2. Answer: b. Although online classes do not offer the same type of in-person interaction as traditional classes, the virtual classroom offers just as many opportunities to interact with professors and fellow students—sometimes even more. Bulletin boards, discussion forums, online chat, instant messaging, and video conferencing are some of the high-tech instruction methods available to online students.

3. Answer: d. About ten percent of institutions with online offerings have programs specifically designed to serve students in the military. Online schools also have enough flexibility in terms of pacing and course structure to serve those with busy schedules, like parents of young children and students already taking in-person courses at traditional colleges and universities.

4. Answer: d. Online schools offer far more than just certificates, licenses, and vocational training—students can pursue traditional academic goals from Associate's degrees all the way up through Doctoral degrees, in subjects ranging from Accounting to Web Design and everything in between.

5. Answer: c. Online classes are offered in a variety of subjects—even chocolate-making, although you probably won't find one aimed at would-be nutritionists! Courses from psychology to disaster management to public health and beyond are among the multitude of offerings at online schools.

6. Answer: d. An increasing number of schools, from online-only institutions to traditional brick-and-mortar schools, are offering online degree and certificate programs. Even prestigious universities like Harvard, Stanford, and Cornell offer online certificates and courses, as well as many university extension programs.