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Online College Degree

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THE WORTH OF ONLINE COLLEGE DEGREES

The Worth of Online College Degrees There are those who hold on to the belief that online degrees are worth less than those gained from traditional college campuses. Those students enrolled in accredited online degree programs, however, will hold firm to the fact that, if anything, a degree from an online school can be more demanding than those obtained from more traditional classes. The accessibility of online degree programs opens a wealth of possibilities to those who would have no access to those programs in only the traditional setting. Certainly there are disadvantages to the virtual classroom format, as there are with the traditional classroom format. The advantages far outweigh the negative disadvantages, however, allowing the Internet to assist in bringing high quality education to a greater number of people, and in a wider range of socioeconomic demographic groups. It allows the adult learner or the career changer the opportunity to pursue new interests, and to obtain the degrees necessary in order to secure positions in which their years of practical work experience can be of the greatest benefit. Online education is a booming business, according to International Data Corp. Online enrollments are growing by 33% a year, and hundreds of schools now offer online degrees. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, 8% of the 16.5 million undergraduates in the 1999-2000 academic school years were enrolled in distance education or online programs. Of that group, 60% were using the Internet to do so. For adults returning to school while also juggling full-time jobs and family responsibilities, the benefits are obvious. And in truth, distance education is nothing new. Schools have offered correspondence classes for years, delivering lectures by closed-circuit TV or video and mailing course materials back and forth. What is fairly new is the possibility of completing a degree completely online. In reviewing 355 research studies and reports on distance learning, Dr. Thomas Russell of the University of North Carolina, discovered that when traditional campus learning is compared to distance learning there are "no significant differences" in learner outcome or satisfaction. While many factors affect the overall quality of an educational experience, delivery method alone is not one of them. Since 1996, there has been a rapid increase in the acceptance of online degrees. This appears to be related to the rise of the Internet as a delivery method. Americans are now more trusting of the Internet, and therefore tend to trust degrees delivered this way more so than there were in the past. In the year 2000, 79% of corporate managers rated a distance degree "as good as" the traditional college option. Fewer than 50% of corporate managers felt this way in 1989. A rapid increase in the number of traditional brick and mortar educational institutions that offer online degrees has also heightened public acceptance. Provided an institution is accredited by a recognized agency, greater than 85% of those surveyed in 2001 believed that quality should not be an issue. Despite concerns, acceptance of online degree programs is on the rise. Many corporations are hiring applicants with online degrees, or providing tuition reimbursement to students attending online universities. As more traditional and quality institutions begin to offer these programs, they will become more common and widely accepted. According to a report from Market Data Retrieval, colleges providing online degrees doubled in just one year. The survey of 4,000 institutions showed promising figures in 1999-2000, 34% of colleges offered degrees on the Internet, up from 15% just the year before. As increasing numbers of professionals receive their degrees and professional training on the Internet, employers uncertain of online degrees will need to re-evaluate their position. These programs are coming on strong in the education industry, as technology becomes more sophisticated and the demand grows.

References:
Phillips, Vicky. Online College Degrees: Public & Employer Acceptance. Retrieved May 7, 2005, from http://www.geteducated.com.

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