How Does an Online Degree Differ from a Traditional One?

Last updated on November 15, 2017

Whether you work full time, need to stay at home with your kids, or have trouble making it to traditional classes, online degree programs offer a great opportunity to continue your education. The main difference between online courses and regular ones is that online classes allow students to complete their coursework via the Internet, with no actual face-to-face contact with professors and students. However, there are some other important differences as well.

One of the biggest reasons that people pursue an online degree is the flexibility it provides. Students do not have to get to and from campus or sit in a classroom for several hours each week. Basically, as long as students are able to complete all of their assignments by the time that they are due, they can study wherever and whenever they want. However, with no face-to-face communication with their professors and classmates, many students find it difficult to complete a degree online.

In general, completing an online degree requires a lot of self-discipline and self-motivation. The idea of taking classes from the comfort of your own home may sound appealing, but it is not without its challenges. Since there are no actual class meetings, it is important for students to create a schedule for themselves that sets aside time for reading, studying and completing assignments. And although students will be communicating with classmates and professors through discussion forums, chat and e-mail, they will have to do the majority of the work on their own. Students considering an online degree program must be able to work independently.

Overall, online degrees are usually less expensive than regular degrees. Not only is the tuition itself cheaper, but students will also save money on transportation, housing and books. All the material a student needs to complete an online degree is generally available on the Internet.

However, students need to make sure that they have all the necessary resources to successfully complete an online degree. First and foremost, students should have access to a computer and the Internet. If students do not have a computer at their work or home, they may be able to use one at the local library or college, but this can be difficult. In addition, students need an e-mail account to communicate regularly with professors and classmates. If students are not comfortable using these technologies, they may want to reconsider getting an online degree.

More so than other students, individuals seeking an online degree must have strong reading and writing skills. Since there are no in-person lectures, students will need to carefully read class materials and assignment guidelines. Because so much of our communication is non-verbal in nature, students should also feel confident in their ability to communicate their ideas (as well as receive them) through writing.

In addition, it is helpful if students considering an online degree check that the university or college from which they are receiving the degree is accredited. With a plethora of phony degree programs in existence, students should make sure that their degree is coming from a reputable institution. The last thing you want after paying for your program and taking your classes is to not get a degree. An accredited school has been evaluated and approved by an agency that the U.S. Department of Education considers a reliable authority You can perform a search here. Please, keep in mind that not all programs or schools are required to be accredited. So, accreditation is not always the sole determinant of whether you will receive a quality education or not. It is merely one recommended step you should take in choosing the correct degree program for your needs.

Just like with any college search, students seeking an online degree should carefully consider various programs and schools. Not only should the online school to which you are applying be an accredited institution, but students should also check the credentials of instructors and advisors and make sure that they are readily accessible. Students should find out the job placement rates for their chosen degree program as well. Furthermore, good programs will keep their coursework current, and they should provide students with access to important resources like online libraries and databases.

Overall, online degrees offer a great opportunity to further your education. If you work full time, have kids, hate getting up in the morning, or are unable to afford traditional college classes, an online degree might be the best choice for you. However, they are by no means easier to obtain than regular degrees. And while taking classes at home might sound like a good idea, it can be a challenge. Students seeking an online degree must be highly motivated and self-disciplined and should enjoy working independently. It is important for students to take the time to decide whether or not an online degree is the right choice for them and, once they do, to find the best program to meet their needs.