The world of digitalization continues to grow stronger than ever, leading to the automation of many monotonous tasks and thus new forms of employment tend to replace the existing ones. Many years ago if we were to get trained for competitive exams or entrance exams – we would definitely look at nearby coaching centers. But now the conventional physical learning taught by tutors physically is being replaced by online means. For pretty much every exam or course, we have an online platform to go to. We even have the most reputed institutes of the world offering open courseware on a variety of on-demand topics. And on that note there is one hot topic – Are Online Degrees Worth It?
Many premium institutions across the world are offering online degrees in various fields. Although such initiatives may prove to be a very good solution to students who are unable to travel long distances and cover expenses to come and study in reputed universities, it still has its own pros and cons. In this article, we will go through how an online degree may be beneficial and how it may not be.
1. Learning Flexibility: Advantage
A benefit of most of the online programs is that every assignment has a flexible deadline and also the fact that all we would need is a laptop or mobile phone and possibly some notes. If we miss out on a deadline, the first time, we can set a new one based on our convenience. Although, this may not be the case when we attend physically. As the deadlines are flexible, we have a lot of time to watch videos, refer to relevant resources, and spare time for our personals. But in the physical mode, if you miss a deadline, you can almost consider yourself done for. Hence, this is one wonderful benefit that online degree takers can experience.
Another possibility may be that when we are not in our homes and have left to another place – even in that case, considering the portability of our devices these days, it’s very easy to carry an android phone or a laptop with internet hotspots. This helps us to stay connected at almost any location depending on the strength of the signals which may be a limitation. However, such lecture videos are also available to download offline which resolves this issue.
2. Student to Faculty Interaction and Vice-Versa: Disadvantage
To understand this let’s consider a small example – You decided to ask the faculty about why you scored very low in a certain assignment and take relevant feedback to be careful the next time. You dropped an email stating your concern. And the faculty replied with short sentences which you don’t have a clue of. And you sent another email to explain things in more detail. No matter how many means of communication you employed, the faculty has still not responded.
Many conflicts arise only due to improper listening or understanding. Such problems can be easily seen through if you interact face-to-face. Whereas here you have your faculty in a totally different place and the only mode in which you can communicate is online. Needless to say, student-faculty interaction is very important for the successful completion of any course or program.
3. Self Learning: Advantage
These days we hear the words self-learning and life-long learning very frequently, don’t we? Out of these, the objective of self-learning is accomplished in online degrees. Since the instructors can only be present virtually, you’ll have no choice but to learn most of the things yourself. In the process, you’ll not only learn academic concepts but also learn something in addition which may be beneficial in the future in some way or the other. Now, that is called researching a topic! Something many companies are wanting these days.
4. Expanding Your Network: Disadvantage
One of the many purposes of attending coursework in a university is to know how to interact with a variety of people: students, teachers, business professionals alike. This helps to grow your network in a different diversity and is extremely important to build confidence, presentation, and communication skills, something an online degree pursuer can only dream of achieving. And of course, without communication and presentation skills you just can’t hope to address several thousands of people or more in a seminar, can you? Neither you can hope to confidently present a topic in front of recruiters or any other.
5. Cutting Down Expenses: Advantage
Just consider that you are applying for education in a foreign country, let’s say England. Along with the regular tuition fee that you must pay regardless of online or physical mode – you must also keep in mind the cost of living. When we talk about the cost of living we need to talk about rent, food, bills, commuting, and so on. According to a rough estimate, all of that might cost 80,000 INR a month or more. So along with paying thousands of pounds you need to think of some more thousands as well. All of that might obviously force you to work part-time or apply for a loan to cut down the expenses.
Meanwhile, online degree classes can be taken from anywhere as long as you have a mobile device and an internet connection. So, the additional expenses of living would be cut down significantly. However, there won’t be much of a difference in the tuition fee you’ll need to pay in online programs compared to those who attend physically.
6. Experiencing Campus Life and Facilities: Disadvantage
Remember, when you pay the course fee for an offline degree, you don’t just pay the tutors for their videos and assignments and thus the certificate. You pay for a variety of things such as sitting and interacting with many other students as an equal, experiencing advanced facilities and the environment, participating in activities, sitting for placements, mentoring and counseling, advice from the experienced, correcting your mistakes, shape your character and what not! Some of these things you may not experience in online degree programs.
We need to understand that education can be provided in numerous ways all of which are useful in some way or the other. So if you wish to take an online degree, think about all its advantages and also, what you are going to let go of before making your final decision.