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The Pros and Cons of Online Degree Programs

Online education has been in the market for a about a decade now, but the sudden surge in the number of people opting for it sets us thinking of the usefulness of these programs.
Good educational qualifications can come pretty handy when it comes to getting hired or getting ahead in any career. These days, if you are seeking to spruce up your resume and your work skills, you can choose between attending a regular college or going for an online college degree.
Online college programs, like regular courses, have their share of pros and cons. It is a good idea to consider both sides before making up your mind.

The Pros

One of the best things is the amount of flexibility possible. You don't have to interrupt your regular schedule to join an online college program. You can study at your own pace and convenience. And you don't have to spend time and money in commuting to and from college.
Most of the coursework material required is supplied over the internet in the form of ebooks and etexts. Many online institutions also offer students the facility of accessing their online libraries for extra research. So there is no need for you to buy expensive books.
A regular college degree usually takes four years to complete. Online college degrees can be finished within a year or two if you want to. You can take extra and specialized courses of only a few weeks duration. You can select from a wide variety of such programs.
You will be opening your mind to the advancing technology and business strategies by taking an online course. As this requires the ability to manage time and stay motivated, you will also develop good managerial and organizational skills.
Online college degrees from properly accredited institutions are considered to be on the same level as degrees from regular schools. In fact, many regular colleges now also offer online courses. Online college degrees are accepted by most employers.
You can also get financial aid for your online course. Keep in mind though that financial aid is only given to students pursuing a degree course. You cannot avail of it if you're just going for a certificate or non-degree program.
Students taking online college degrees come from different walks of life and from different parts of the world, and so there is bound to be a fair exchange of cultural and social information. Knowing how to interact and get along well with different types of people will give you a definite edge in your career.

The Cons

Online college degrees from non-accredited institutions have little value in the work industry, so you need to make sure everything is legally accredited before you sign on for any program. It is a good idea to research about the institute on the internet and talk to former students of their experience.
Online college degrees do not offer face-to-face interactions with peers and teachers. All interaction is in the form of emails, chats, group discussions, etc. The lack of normal social relations can be tough on some people. Find yourself spending more time with people online than offline.
You can work in your own home, but you need to consider if your home environment is right for independent study. Will you be able to make the time and find the space to study? Do you have the support of your family? Will chores and other personal obligations get in the way of your work?
Online college programs require independent study and comprehension skills. The professors will be available at certain specified times to offer instruction and advise, but you will have to do the major portion of the work by yourself.
This requires a fair amount of self-motivation and discipline. Without putting in enough work and effort, it would not add value to you than you would with a regular one.

 Sonal Panse

Austin Distel, Andrew Neel