Top 10 Online Education Myths

1. Online degrees are not accepted.

Partially true. An online degree from a diploma mill is only good for adorning your wall. However, an online degree from an accredited institution is perfectly valid. You need to ensure that your school is accredited by one of the regional accreditation agencies as shown on the Council for Higher Education Accreditation’s website.

2. I can’t get the exams where I live.

Almost certainly false. The majority of my exams were taken using the Pearson/VUE system, which has centers all over the US and other parts of the world. I have taken exams in Saudi Arabia; Rome, Italy; Syracuse, New York; and have recently scheduled a GRE exam in Bogota, Colombia.

If you are in the military, there are even more options available at your Education center.

3. I can’t get the books I need where I live.

If you can get mail, you can get your books. It might require more advance planning on your part to get them in time for your class, but the material is almost certainly available. My university, Excelsior, has a bookstore where you can order the textbooks for their classes. However, I have found that better prices are usually available from Amazon, or Barnes & Noble .

It is also possible to find a wealth of material for free on the Internet.

4. Online degrees are only good for computer subjects.

While it’s true that the online education field was at one time dominated by computer industry certifications, currently a vast array of degree programs are available. I started with the Microsoft Certified System Engineer certification, followed by Cisco’s CCNA and CCDA. But once I found out how convenient distance learning is for me, I followed up by completing my Bachelors degree from Excelsior.

5. Online degrees are only good for non-technical subjects.

It is possible to obtain a Bachelor of Science degree in the so-called “hard core” subjects, i.e. Electrical Engineering Technology, Nuclear Technology and Computer Science. My school, Excelsior, currently offers Bachelors programs in Electronic Engineering Technology and Nuclear Engineering Technology, both of which are certified by TAC-ABET. While it is true that technology degrees (as opposed to Engineering degrees) do not command the status of engineering degrees, they are perfectly acceptable to most employers. The problem would occur if you are intent on obtaining a Masters Degree in Engineering. In that case, to enter a Masters program, an ABET certified Engineering degree is required.

6. Online degrees are easier than degrees from Brick and Mortar schools.

As with most things in life, you will get out of the programs what you put in to them. The standards of accreditation ensure that the course work assigned by the online universities is equivalent to the work assigned in traditional schools.

7. Distance Learning credits cannot be transferred to a traditional University.

As long as you obtain your credits from an accredited institution, your credits can be transferred. It’s true that there are several universities that are quite picky about accepting credits from other universities (SUNY for example is famous for this practice). I believe that this is driven more by the university’s economic policies than by a real concern for the quality of the student’s coursework. After all, if they can force you to re-take courses (at $hundreds per credit hour), the more they make. In that case, you should investigate the hundreds of other universities that have less restrictive policies.

8. I can start and stop any time.
Partially true. The flexibility of the online education market is one of the great advantages. However, class schedules still apply, and you will need to set goals and get the courses completed in your allotted time. If you delay for too long, some of your courses will become outdated (especially in the technology areas), or school policies may change; requiring you to change your education plan to meet the new course criteria, and you may lose your motivation.

9. Online learning is not for me because I need interaction.

Although it is true that we each have our individual learning styles, we can also adapt to new styles. What is it that you miss most about traditional classroom learning? Being able to ask questions? Email the professor. Being able to chat with other students? Form an online discussion group or convince some of your co-workers or friends to enroll with you.

10. Online learning takes longer.

The flexibility of online programs can allow you to complete your degree in much less time than traditional schools. Most online universities are only concerned with completing the coursework and examinations, not how many hours you put in. If you are worried about taking too long, apply at one of the many online universities that follow the standard semester schedule.

3 comments… add one
  • George

    Thanks for the great info. I’m a big fan of traditional schools, but I feel the online system has something to offer.

    You should add a myth about not being able to combine traditional and online educations. I have used both types to get my degree.

  • Hi George,

    Thanks for commenting. I could have continued with the myths, but a top ten list seems to read better than a top eleven (or twelve, or thirteen, etc.)

  • Macy

    Wouldn't it be nice if you can provide a post that lists the top 10 degrees that you can earn online and where you can get it? And it would be a major PLUS if you can also add some details like the total cost, course outline, number of hours, etc. Great Blog by the way..

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