In the past decade, online learning has become more accessible as potential students discover that no matter what their daily obligations, they can find ways to obtain degrees while staying within their work and life schedules. Many accredited colleges such as Florida National University are now offering online learning programs, and the federal government recently started making data about online enrollments and academic performance available to researchers.
According to a March 2019 report published by Inside Higher Ed, more American private schools are embracing online education as a way to reach students whose socioeconomic status and life situations do not allow them to enjoy traditional campus programs.
Online learning transcends the realm of higher education. In 2018, technology giant Google invested $20 million into an initiative to create educational content on its popular YouTube platform; these videos will range from explanations about science topics to step-by-step cooking, programming, and foreign language acquisition tutorials. Google is financially motivated with this project for two reasons: First of all, the company is looking for a safe place where brands can place advertisements; second, data analytics and surveys indicate that online audiences are increasingly searching for educational content.
Widespread adoption of internet technology has been the great enabler of online education. About a decade ago, not everyone was able to set up the equipment and services required to complete an online degree program; at the same time, not all colleges could figure out how to adapt their degree programs for internet delivery.
Another factor that initially held up the progress of online colleges was related to attitudes expressed by certain societal segments that imposed an unfair stigma on any type of academic achievement earned outside the confines of the classroom. Thankfully, online education has come a long away, and it has reached a level of maturity bolstered by accessibility and legitimacy.
As with everything in life, prospective students should take a good look at the advantages and disadvantages of an online college education. Here are a few salient factors to evaluate:
With little excuse for not pursuing higher learning in order to obtain a degree, more and more people are turning to online classes in the hopes of fortifying their careers and obtaining a good salary. Regardless of your obligations, you should be able to take advantage of the flexibility that online education provides, and there are virtually no drawbacks to mention in this regard, perhaps with the exception of choosing too many classes at once. Those who are new to online education should first become familiar with free internet courses to get a feel of how they work.
Fitting Classes Into Your Schedule
If you are employed, have a family to raise, are housebound, live in a rural area, or find yourself constantly on the move, online learning provides a viable setting where you can actually fit classes into your schedule. The ability to study on your own time, as well as review classes and lectures again if you need to, is an extremely convenient factor.
Most of your study materials, including lectures and texts, can be accessed whenever you need them. For many busy people who want to get ahead in their lives, learning at their own pace is a very smart way to obtain a college degree.
Innovations and Advancing Technologies
Another positive aspect of online education, at least in the case of FNU, is that technological innovations are being applied in practical and convenient ways such as rolling semesters. Some FNU degrees make independent coursework dominant, which means that you can complete the entire curriculum requirements according to a schedule you set on your own and without having to wait for a new semester to roll in. Through the Blackboard learning management system, degree programs that are 100 percent online are truly within your reach.
Saving Money While Earning a Degree
Taking online classes is usually less expensive than taking on-campus courses at traditional universities. In general, online education requires fewer purchases related to textbook materials and travel costs, thus allowing students to save precious funds while earning their degrees.
Self-Discipline and Responsibility
Wherever you can access an internet connection, your online coursework will be available. As long as you have the self-discipline required to maintain the continuity of your schedule and keep yourself on track, you will enjoy the freedom of taking online classes; however, with the freedom to take courses at your own pace comes the need for greater responsibility, requiring proper organization to create a workable schedule that you can realistically adhere to. You will only be at a disadvantage if you are not able to maintain this self-discipline.
Devoting most of your time to completing online degree programs can backfire if you end up neglecting other aspects of your life. Remember to take advantage of the flexibility of online courses, which allow you to enjoy downtime that you can spend with friends and family.
Staying Focused on Your Degree
A potential disadvantage of taking online classes is that if you are not thoroughly committed to getting your degree, it could take you years to complete the program. Doing your assignments, reading the required materials, interacting with your professors and peers, and taking exams are entirely up to you. As opposed to the campus experience, where your sheer presence in a classroom filled with other students and a present professor helps to add pressure and urgency to fulfilling commitments, you may encounter a greater temptation to ignore obligations when you choose the online education route.
If you are the type who is easily distracted, you may procrastinate; it is even worse when you do not have your eyes focused firmly on earning your degree as this can cause you to drop out if you don’t feel inspired.
Time Management Skills and Trust in the Program
Taking online classes requires time management skills to help you stay on task. Additionally, if you do not trust that the courses you have chosen are indeed essential for the knowledge you need in your given field, you may drop out through lack of interest. When you evaluate online courses, it helps to keep a visual calendar of the tasks and assignments you are expected to complete; the idea is to avoid surprises that you may end up rushing to complete.
Taking online courses requires a certain amount of trust in the program and a steadfastness that comes with discipline and drive. A good way to avoid this from happening is to discuss your interests and goals with an admissions counselor. Trust in the program also means trust in the institution; to this effect, you should know that FNU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to grant degrees at the associate, bachelor and master levels.
Real-time socializing with peers can be either a plus or a minus, and this depends on the type of person you are. Campus interaction can be stimulating in many cases, but it can also be a distraction for some students. Conversely, online interaction can be equally as stimulating, but it can also make you feel like you are all alone in your coursework because of the inherent lack of a physical presence. Whenever the opportunity arises to reach out to your instructors, counselors, and classmates, you should take advantage of it.
Undisturbed Quiet Time for Absorbing Information
Physical spaces for study sessions that can really help you concentrate are not always as readily available when you are learning from home; the burden is on you to create these areas. Most universities have libraries, study halls and learning labs that can help keep you focused. Making sure you have plenty of undisturbed quiet time in which to absorb information is key.
Personal Connections with Peers and Professors
In-person social networking through college organizations can be limited in the online world. Networking functions as an important element in connecting for work opportunities, this means that it is up to you to take advantage of online alternatives in order to achieve similar results. For the benefit of students who prefer the campus experience, FNU strives to keep class sizes smaller for more meaningful interaction with peers and instructors, and we also offer an in-house job placement team in our Hialeah and South campus locations as well as at our training center.
Sitting down with your professors for face-time conversation is not always possible with online courses, and this is where certain nuances of non-verbal communication can be lost. Scheduling online appointments with your teachers are extremely important to ensure that you get the right kind of feedback on your work; you really do not want to become just another anonymous student instead of an avid learner who understands that personal connection is one of the best ways to move forward in a learning environment.
The Importance of Accreditation
One of the most delicate areas when it comes to the pros and cons of taking online classes has to do with accreditation. Even today, many online educational facilities are not accredited, which means that your degree and qualifications may not be recognized or taken seriously by professionals such as potential employers. This also means that your credits may not be transferable to another university if you choose to pursue your education at another college.
This can become a costly mistake if you have chosen your university incorrectly, both in terms of time and money. You can learn more about the specific accreditation, licenses and approval certificates of FNU here.
Sometimes an online university will present an unrealistic time frame for completing your courses as you pursue a degree program. Making sure that your capacity to complete your educational tasks in a timely fashion is certainly possible, but this is something you need to ascertain within the obligations you have elsewhere in life. Being realistic an essential ingredient that can determine career success or failure.
Something to keep in mind when you take online courses is that they are still part of an academic journey, which means that fluent expression will always be the key to demonstrating mastery of the subject matter. To this effect, you will want to get as much as you can from your college writing classes, which should preferably be taken as early as possible.
You should also strive to be as fluid as possible with regard to the internet technologies that support your academic platform; for example, learn how to troubleshoot wireless connections, keep your personal computing devices in good condition, back up your data, and keep your system safe from cybersecurity issues.
Contact Florida National University Today
To learn more about the pros and cons of online education, discuss which option best suits your learning style and lifestyle, and begin earning your degree, contact FNU today. Our admissions and academic advisers can help you take the first step towards a professional career that you can study online, in our South Florida campus locations, or through a combination of both virtual learning and classroom work.