Although going to school online is almost always less expensive than going to an actual university, you might be surprised at some of the top online school's typical tuition rates. These programs often charge per credit hour, and the cost for one credit hour can range from $325 to over $600! It is, on the other hand, possible to attend certain community colleges for less money in the long run, especially if you are able to secure some financial aid assistance from your state or your school's endowment.
In fact, a recent survey of online degree programs in technical fields like graphic design, web design and internet marketing revealed some tuitions that were exactly what enrolling at a traditional college would cost! I found some tuition costs for online degrees in these fields to range from $17,000 all the way up $33,000!
To be fair, there are also ways in which attending school online can actually help you to cut costs and to totally avoid some living expenses that students at traditional schools simply accept as an intrinsic part of the usual college slog. Things like gas, transportation costs and especially room and board can be completely avoided by getting your degree online, especially if you plan ahead and budget carefully.Â
Possibility for travel.
Although the bulk of course work and interacting with professors and classmates is done online, there are still certain courses and programs which require that you eventually make an actual trip to one of their physical campuses, be it for commencement, the final test in any given subject, a personal teacher evaluation for certain subjects like early childhood education, or simply for the final term tests. There is speculation that online schools insist on having their students take the most important tests in a physical classroom so as to make cheating far more difficult. Keep in mind the possibility that you may at one point be required to make a long trip to your institution's nearest campus for major events during the course of your distance education program.
Many of distance education's harshest critics consistently bring up the fact that much of learning is accomplished socially, and that, as social beings participating, failing and succeeding in a society, it is essential that schooling enriches our interpersonal skill set and challenges us to encounter and collaborate people with backgrounds that differ from our own. There is certainly something to be said for growing socially while growing academically. It can be difficult to find and maintain the kind of mutually edifying relationships that most college students form with their classmates while living together on campus. This is something to weigh carefully if you are considering getting an online degree, as many proponents of a traditional in-classroom education believe that much of the value of a given school comes from the interactions it fosters between teacher and student. Students that get their degrees in person have a chance to not only learn the material of their chosen course, but also to learn from the personal example of their teacher, to ask more specific questions and to learn not only from the content of their professor's lectures but also from the style with which they deliver them.Â
Furthermore, if you are truly thinking about getting your degree online you should be aware that many institutions and future employers have a tendency to look down on distance learning programs because they consider them to be shallow or even phony. If you are trying to get your online degree in a field that truly values hands-on learning and real experience, you might want to rethink your distance learning program and opt for an in-person course at your local community college.Â
Experiencing technical difficulties!
When you are taking all your courses online, much of the quality of your experience will be determined by the speed and bandwidth of your internet connection and the processing power of your computer. Faster and more advanced connectivity will allow you to experience the fullest range of activities, such as video chats with professors and video conferences with classmates, while also enabling you to quickly download massive amounts of data, pictures and sound bytes assigned as learning materials. Think about upgrading your system and internet service provider before you commit to classes online. Getting your degree online can be a very frustrating process if you're not already technically inclined, and especially if you and computers go together like computers and water. If you don't have someone tech-savvy in your home or neighborhood that can help you everytime you encounter a blip in your distance learning program, you might want to reconsider getting your degree online given how much frustration you are likely to endure by the time the process is over.Â
Out of sight, out of mind.
If you're the kind of person that has difficulty generating your own motivation and inspiration, you might find distance learning to be a flat, frustrating and ultimately fruitless endeavor. There is a lot to be said for having a real teacher that gets upset with you, in person, when you don't show up to make your presentation. It is far easier to blow off a course when it's sitting on your computer in an e-mail file than it is to walk past your classroom on the way to cut class with some friends on the other side of campus.
This is another aspect of education that can be complicated by distance. Whereas you could expect to receive either a stink-eye or a harsh rebuke from your professor if you cut too many classes at a regular school, you're unlikely to be as inspired to make it to class just from reading a strong worded e-mail, which is far too easy to skim and delete.Â
However, if you know yourself well, and you know that you're not deterred or distracted by tasks that require self-motivation, you can be confident that the disadvantages to getting your degree online will be far outweighed by the fact that you can go at your own pace, attend class in your pajamas, and get an excellent education from the comfort of your own home.Â