College education is a benefit that too few people have available to them. In the past the costs of courses and scheduling difficulties made college an impossible dream for many. Yet since the 1990s there has been a boom in technology that has altered the way people communicate. This ranges into everyday life such as games, work, and even going to school. Now more than ever people use the Internet and mobile devices to keep in touch with friends and family, conduct business (even telecommute) and attend school. In fact, it is now possible to attain accredited education from kindergarten through a doctorate degree without ever stepping foot inside an actual school or classroom.
There are many benefits to online education when it is done correctly. Most online classes are asynchronous meaning that users can log on and do their work whenever it suits them best (as long as they meet certain weekly deadlines, of course). Online classes can provide great opportunities to learn about a subject and talk about the assigned material via lively class “discussion” posts. Most college professors agree that talking about the material is key to truly absorbing the lessons and hearing the points of views of other students is great for broadening one’s own mind. Therefore, most reputable college courses will consider weekly class discussions to be a big part of a student’s overall grade. Although college courses can be conducted virtually, the connections one can make with other students is as real as it would be in a traditional classroom.
Although online education was originally seen as subpar to that which could be received via brick and mortar schools, it is now becoming a normal part of even the most traditional colleges.
Online college courses, and even entire degree programs, are increasing in numbers even among top-tier schools like New York University and Columbia University (which actually offers some fully online doctoral programs). Many schools that were once against online education are now offering degrees fully online. Even more astoundingly, the demand for work from home and telecommuting jobs is steadily increasing. If this trend continues to grow, then individuals who are self-motivated and are accustomed to working online will have an advantage in the changing job market.
Of course, selecting a college is a very personal choice that takes a lot of premeditation and thoughts about ones’ future. It is extremely important to research any college that you are thinking about attending and to make sure they are fully accredited (“regional accreditation” is most important although “national accreditation” is accepted to a lesser degree). It is also important to research the cost-per-credit. Some for-profit colleges have been stigmatized for charging students a lot of money for degrees that are not considered extremely valuable by many employers. A simple Google search will help someone find information on any college that they are interested in and doing such dedicated research is what will ultimately prepare one to become a top-grade student.
As cyber-schools become increasingly popular it is logical to assume that the number of people in attendance will radically grow in the coming decades. Although online education is a fairly new concept—particularly in mainstream society—it is a growing trend that cannot, and should not, be ignored or written off.