Benefits and Challenges of Online College Education

Online education is a fast-growing trend or even the need of the hour, especially after the Covid pandemic hit us hard. Even the best colleges and universities around the world are coming up with online degree programs. Moreover, the benefits of studying online can be rewarding if you understand the know-how. Having said that, remote learning just like remote work tags along with some downsides as well. If you are well prepared and take baby steps, you can also fix the challenges of online learning and education.

In the race of life, everyone wants to cross the finish line first. Therefore, right from the very beginning many people or visionaries set proper life goals for themselves that they aim to fulfill by a specified period.

But many are unable to fulfill these goals due to various unforeseen or uncontrollable circumstances. Time is money and money has become the ultimate thing in today’s time. The cost of everything including the necessities like food, clothing, shelter, education as well as healthcare, is rising day by day.

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Many youngsters around the world are dropping school and college at a very young age to start working and support their families financially.

Statistics say that 57% of students enrolled in college are not done after 6 years. 

However, insufficient qualifications turn out to be a significant obstacle in their career path. Due to the lack of a proper college degree, many young aspirants are unable to get promotions, pay hikes or get their dream job.

At these situations, one of the biggest saviors is the online college program.

For a successful life and career, practical knowledge, academic and technical skills along with social skills and confidence. There are various online college programs available on the internet which serve as a ray of hope to many youngsters who wish to complete their degree.

What are online college degrees?

With the changing times and growing demands of the people, many top universities across the globe have started a special online degree program. The use of the internet helps to earn such types of degrees very quickly. There is no need to attend college in a traditional and everyday campus setting.

Various international universities like Harvard University, IGNOU, etc. offer an online degree program.

Apart from this, websites like Alison, Coursera, edX, Udemy, Pluralsight, etc. also have various certificate courses and online courses available.

Who can pursue this degree?

Online college degrees are available and open to anyone interested in pursuing them. There is no upper age limit; however, some courses may have lower age restrictions. These courses are open to people across all nationalities.

The primary thing required to pursue an online degree is an active internet connection and a computer or cell phone. However, some institutes may also offer a hard copy of the study material.

What do statistics say?

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According to a survey released by the Babson Survey Research Group and the College Board, nearly 32% of higher education students enrolled in online courses in 2012.

A 2016 Learning House Market Research study of online college students found that 90% of respondents believed their online degree experience was equivalent or better than taking courses on campus, and 72% felt it was worth the time to earn a degree online.

Coursera, one of the websites hosting online degree program reports that 93% of the education seekers reported benefits from pursuing an online degree.

Is Online College Degree Beneficial For You?

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Let’s have a look at the benefits of studying through online education.

 

1) Time-Saving

Online college degrees are known to be extremely time-saving. You can also pursue this degree from the comfort of your home or while you are on an international trip. E.g., I have come across many youngsters pursuing a full-time job while simultaneously completing a college degree online.

2) Cost-Efficient

Another benefit of studying online is that it is cost-efficient. These online programs are very affordable. There are various courses offered online. The fees for each course differs based on its complexity and popularity. E.g., a simple art degree can cost lesser in comparison to an engineering degree. On the other hand, certain websites also provide few courses free of cost.

3) Flexible and Convenient

Such online degree programs are known for their flexibility and convenience. This is a great benefit of online education for all types of learners. It might run on a semester system, or a quarter system, or its unique system. If for some reason you need to take a break from your course, you can do so quickly. When you return, you can easily pick up and start again right from where you left it.

Online programs are also extremely suited to your learning pace. You can learn at your own pace from the comfort of your house. You can attend video lectures while you lie down in your bed.

4) Variety Available

An online degree program is available for almost all types of courses and this is a great benefit of studying for a learner. From education to fashion to business, a vast variety of courses are made available. Apart from this, short certificate courses (that usually last for around 6 months) are also available for all those seeking to add extra feathers on their cap.

However, some courses that need practical hands-on experience and knowledge (like medical and engineering) may not be available, or the content may be minimal.

5) Better Opportunities

Everyone who completes an online degree program can explore better job opportunities. With additional degrees, you also increase your chances of getting a promotion, landing a better job as well as having a salary hike.

6) Freedom to Learn While Working

Ever wanted to be a Harvard or Yale graduate but couldn’t? An online degree program is an answer to your prayers. Even the best colleges around the world provide online degree programs. With such a program in place, you have the freedom to pick up any course from any international university online college degree program. You can work and learn at the same time.

7) Career Advancement

If you feel that you already have a degree and you don’t need another one, think again. Having an extra degree is always a plus point in your career advancement. The more you learn, the more you excel in your field.

Rather than using your free time for something unnecessary, enroll for a course or an extra degree which will help you in your career advancement.

8) No Age Restrictions

40.9% of students enrolled in some kind of distance education programs were over 30 years of age.

As I said earlier, one of the biggest plus points of online college degrees is there are no age restrictions. It doesn’t matter if you are 18 or 80 years, you can still enroll for an online college degree. It’s never too late to get your degree.

9) Virtual Study Groups and International Professors

Another biggest benefit of an online college degree is the discussion group. There are various virtual study groups where you can discuss and clarify your doubts and questions. These study groups are generally available on the website. Through these study groups, you can interact and meet students and professors from different countries.

10) Learn new skills

One of the greatest benefits of online education is that you can pick up new skills. There isn’t any restriction on what you should and what you shouldn’t learn. If you are an engineer who always wanted to learn about fashion, you can enroll for a certificate course or a degree in fashion.

11) Adaptable to the learning style

Every student’s needs are different. Thus, every student should decide what kind of college best meets and satisfies their individual needs.

Online college degrees are suitable for diverse learners and people with different types of learning styles. If a student has difficulty coping up with the content, he/she can take as much time required or refer to various videos available on the internet.

12) Self-Motivated

Moreover, online courses make an individual responsible for their education and career. It creates self-motivation in an individual.

What Are The Challenges of Online Education?

Though online education has many benefits, it also comes with challenges. Let’s have a look at some of the challenges of online learning.

1) Recognized by Corporate Companies

One of the biggest problems is whether your degree will be recognized by the company you interview or work for or no. Many companies have begun taking candidates who have pursued online degrees

Reports show that 43.7% of graduate students who completed an online degree reported having a job while only 7.6% of the undergraduate counterparts reported having employment. 

However, there are still many standard and traditional companies that look for candidates who pursue on-campus education.

2) Personal Touch

Some students require a personal touch when it comes to education. They need a teacher sitting beside them to help them out in their studies and clear their doubts. This behavior may not be available in an online college format.

3) Connectivity issues

There are still many places around the globe with extremely little to no internet access. This is a great challenge of online learning It is difficult for an online college program to reach such places. Also, improper internet and connectivity issues can hamper the studies.

4) Limited content

In the benefits of online education, we discussed the variety of courses. However, some advanced courses have limited content available. There is a need for on-campus education for such courses along with practical training.

5) Plagiarism

The notes provided may be plagiarized from various authors. Apart from that, the assignments and projects submitted by students can also be merely and blindly copy-pasted from other sources. The originality of the students can be restricted.

6) Disorganized Flow

Many professors have said that online college and courses follow a very casual pattern and can seem quite disorganized. This is a great challenge of online learning.

7) Isolation

Students who live alone, and pursue such a degree can feel isolated from the world as they may not have or feel any personal touch of friends or teachers. One of the plus points of an on-campus college setting is that you can make many new friends and socialize. This is not possible or is very little in online college format.

8) Fake Degree Ruckus

Lastly, fake colleges offering fake degrees can also create a ruckus and one of the greatest challenges of online learning. They advertise themselves as the best colleges with online degree programs.

As a result, it becomes difficult to differentiate between what’s authentic and what isn’t. Therefore, it is necessary to check the authenticity of the websites before pursuing any degree or making any payments.

Final Thoughts,

An online college degree is a big boon to not only youngsters but also adults. Always make sure if the college and degree you are pursuing are accredited. Earning an extra degree in limited time at a pocket-friendly rate can be an excellent choice for any student. And that is true, what online colleges can offer.

Key Takeaways On Benefits and Challenges of Online Education

  • Online education and learning is a new trend that is helping many people around the world.
  • Various international universities like Harvard University, IGNOU, etc. offer an online degree program.
  • The primary thing required to pursue an online degree is an active internet connection and a computer or cell phone. Some institutes may also give textbooks or other learning material.
  • Having an extra degree is always a plus point in your career advancement.
  • One of the best benefits of studying online is that you can save a lot of money and time.
  • Online college degrees are suitable for diverse learners and people with different types of learning styles.
  • Another great benefit of online education is that online degree program is available for almost all types of courses and this is a great benefit of studying for a learner.
  • Along with benefits, there are also various challenges to online learning.
  • Frauds, fake institutions, disorganized flow, connectivity issues, etc. are some disadvantages to name a few.

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Felicia is a full-time teacher and a freelancer with an interest in blogging. She is also a die-hard fan of the 'Friends' series.