Campus-based or Online Degree? The Debate Continues
In this day and age, you might be left wondering which way to go when it comes to continuing your education. The growing prevalence of online degrees and their many advantages paired with a weak economy and high unemployment are making them an increasingly attractive option for degree seekers. And while the often higher and seemingly ever-increasing tuition of campus-based degrees is an obvious disadvantage, there are still many reasons as to why a degree obtained at a brick and mortar school is still an attractive option.
If you are torn between which of these two routes to take when it comes to furthering your education, here are a few things you might want to consider in your decision-making process.
One of the greatest reasons for still attaining your degree from a campus-based institution is the college experience itself. For many, the time spent away at school is a time for personal growth and experimentation. It provides an interim period in which a young person can experience life away from home, in which they are responsible for their actions and lifestyle, yet still live in a reasonably safe, secure, and somewhat controlled environment before they are released into the real world in which they may have to fend entirely for themselves.
During this college experience, there are numerous aspects of living and learning that add to the list of pros for attending school away from home and in a college campus environment. In addition to experiencing life largely on your own, there are the aspects of having to sign up for and attend your classes, be to them on time, interact with classmates through projects, presentations, and team building activities, and similar responsibility building activities. You may also find that your classmates and professors are valuable resources in networking and providing you with information that is helpful in growing and furthering your career interests, skills, and abilities.
As mentioned earlier, the cost of a campus-based degree can be one of the greatest detractors of this form of education. But beyond the costs of tuition, housing, transportation, books, and similar expenses, there may be other downsides to an education obtained while at a college campus.
When you’re away at school, it might become apparent that the time or schedule restrictions placed upon you don’t meld well with your expectations or needs. You may not have much control over when particular classes are offered and if you live off campus or in distant student housing, transportation can become an issue as well. Not only this, but if you have to fit in time to work during your education, you might find that the scheduling of your classes can interfere within finding time to earn those paychecks that help pay for your degree work.
Some students that head away for an education on a college campus also find that the transition to living away from home, sometimes hundreds of miles or more, can prove difficult as well. Having to leave the support system of family and friends can have you feeling lost and alone. And while this might cause some students to thrive in the campus environment, it can leave others unhappy and itching to come back home.
The recent proliferation of online degree programs as well as the number of recipients of online degrees only goes to support the idea that there are certainly positive aspects to getting a degree in this way. One of the greatest advantages to online programs besides the lower costs often associated with an online education, is the ability to better fit the necessary coursework to your schedule, rather than vice versa. With an online degree program often comes the ability to fit classes into time slots that best suit your scheduling requirements, allowing you to meet family, work, and other obligations better than in many campus-based programs.
Another advantage to online colleges is that you don’t have to leave home or move to another state to attend classes. This means that it isn’t necessary to sell a home, move a family, find a new job, make new friends, or leave your comfort zone in order to obtain an education. With a huge variety of online degree program options available, you can decide which program best fits your needs, rather than focusing on whether it would be feasible for you to move to a city, state or country in which a particular campus-based institution is located.
Finally, with more campus-based institutions offering online coursework, you may be able to obtain a degree from a better known academic institution but still receive many of the advantages of an online program.
One of the major downsides to obtaining an education by way of an online degree program is that a student may never have the chance to truly break away from the nest and become his or her own person. While this isn’t to say that all online degree holders or participants will be frightened to step outside their comfort zone or take a chance in life, heading off to a college campus at a young age often acts to force the issue a bit sooner than might occur when staying at home to obtain a degree. This may or may not behoove a student and can depending largely upon their personality, maturity level, aspirations, and numerous other factors.
And while it might not be completely fair, there is still a widely held belief among many that online degree programs just don’t provide the quality of education that campus-based programs do. The quality of an online program as compared with a brick and mortar education may largely depend upon the particular program comparison (which online program is being compared to which campus-based institution) as well as the intelligence, work ethic, and educational aptitude of the students participating in a particular program’s coursework.