Which Is A Better College Degree, Traditional Or Online?

by on June 4, 2013

Innovation or tradition? Tried-and-true or cutting edge? Which provides the superior college education, both academically and realistically: to attend a brick-and-mortar college, live in a dorm, eat at the cafeteria and cram for finals in the library, or to pursue a degree while working, raising a family, traveling the world, training for a marathon or pursuing whatever your life goals you might have? In a highly competitive job market with the advance of technology always increasing the pace of the workplace, which set of experiences will set you up for success?

The benefit that many online colleges advertise is the ability to go to school with online or night classes and work right through school, getting a jump start on work experience and putting the student in a better position financially. With the cost of tuition and student loan debt reaching all-time highs, the affordability and accessibility of online education is more appealing than ever. Is an online degree really all that it promises? Does a traditional degree still provide the skills and experience necessary to enter the workplace and hit the ground running?

Don’t Always Trust the Internet With Your Degree

As a savvy, world-wise researcher like you would know, the internet can’t always be trusted. There’s always someone trying to give you something bogus and take your money in return. The absolutely vital requirement for achieving success with an online degree is ACCREDITATION. Beware of diploma mills which will grant anyone a degree for the right price. The terms “college” and “university” are largely unregulated, and scams abound. A “degree” carries no weight unless the school is accredited by a regulating agency. The US has six regional accreditation boards, as follows:

  1. New England Association of Schools & Colleges
  2. North Central Association of Colleges and Schools
  3. Middle States Association
  4. Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
  5. Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges
  6. Western Association of Schools and Colleges

Other widely recognized, legitimate accreditation agencies include the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC) and Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS). If a school claims to be accredited by one of these organizations, look for it on the Council for Higher Education database of accredited institutions and programs.

Location, Motivation, Procrastination

Some might argue in favor of the socialization factor that comes from living in a college dormitory environment, the ease of forming study groups and fewer housekeeping responsibilities. However, the cost of room and board added to tuition can be financially crippling. Many students at four-year universities live off-campus and commute, saving money on housing costs, but online courses save the time and the cost of transportation. With the logistics of location eliminated, students can maintain a permanent residence with parents or personal housing as preferred, without the frequent relocation that many traditional students experience. However, studying from home, like working from home, is a double-edged sword. You can multitask, work in the comforts of your own home and do your work at any time, fitting it in into your preferred schedule. You can do your school work at any time, even roll out of bed at 10am and attend “class” in your pajamas. The flip side is that you can tell yourself you can roll out of bed at 10am, attend “class” in your pajamas but then never do. Without a classroom or library, you must be able to resist the distractions of home and stay on task. Online courses often require self-discipline and motivation. Without a set schedule, those who tend to procrastinate will find it all too easy to fall into the do-it-tomorrow trap.

Isolation in the Age of Connection

Traditional offline courses mean face-to-face time with other students as well as professors, building connections and socializing on a very human level. One drawback of online courses is the lack of face time; however, online forums and chat applications built into a class can help replace the lost face time and provide more in-depth communication among classmates connected virtually. The quality of such systems varies widely, and students must be proactive about maintaining communication and getting the academic support necessary to succeed.

Any pursuit of higher education is a weighty undertaking, and choosing the right program takes research and preparation, whether the path is online, traditional or a combination of both. Both require choosing a program that will be a good fit, planning for the cost of both money and time, and most importantly knowing your end goal and what you plan to accomplish with the degree that would not be possible without it.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Steve July 31, 2013 at 5:16 am

Well, I have an opinion that online colleges degrees do much better than traditional degrees. But yes, there are certain things that must be ascertained before enrolling into one. In my view, online degrees have more benefits than other one.

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Alson Miller October 16, 2013 at 4:18 am

As per my opinion, an online degree would be much better than traditional for a college degree. Online degree colleges offer a great opportunity to get the college degree easy and affordable way.

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Kelly March 19, 2014 at 2:27 am

In my opinion, online colleges provide a better platform to people around the globe. You can achieve any education goal you have ever dreamt of at the comfort of your home or office. We cannot deny that technology has made life much easier.

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Ashley June 22, 2015 at 8:14 am

Yes, online education is the great alternative to the education. Online education has widened its presence in providing the wide range of online courses to the students all over the world. Online education provides educates the students beyond the boundaries. It gives flexibility in learning in the stress-free online environment. Right from school education to the graduation the education is available online where one can access without any physical presence. Thank you for sharing a nice blog. Keep blogging.
Ashley recently posted..Reasons for Government to take a notice on Online EducationMy Profile

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Ashley Wright July 16, 2015 at 7:11 am

Hey Chris! It is absolutely right that online education has changed the way of learning. It has been a boon for many people and kids, who find it difficult to get time to be attending physical classes and lecture sessions. Online education has paved the way for such kids and people. The most important advantage of online courses is that you have no strict time to be online for a lecture and classes. From anywhere and anytime it can be accessed. Working students think this to be the real wonderful quality of online education. Thanks for sharing this informative article with us.
Ashley Wright recently posted..Is Online Schooling a Boon or Bane for StudentsMy Profile

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