For many, the goal is to complete formal courses with a cheaper yet equally effective way of acquiring relevant knowledge and skills.
But as the number of online schools has grown exponentially over the past few years, critics -- some of whom are members of the government -- have aired their concerns on the setbacks of online education and its negative effects on students in the long run. And although acquiring an online degree may look like a fresh alternative to traditional in-person learning, skeptics still cast doubts on its growing reputation as the most rightful alternative to classroom learning.
The proliferation of "degree mills" or online schools that offer "instant" college diplomas and other certifications in exchange for money has drawn the attention of many individuals who wish to obtain diplomas and certificates in an unreasonably convenient method. Bogus certifications often result in the rejection of job applications coming from students who have fallen prey to such illegal schemes. Thus, it always pays for students to check the authenticity of their online school before investing their time and money in online education.
The Impersonal Nature of Online Education
While online degree programs do provide ample access to help from professors and other students, all interactions are mediated by technology. This is attractive for many people, and less so for others -- you will need to decide what works best for you. While some people expect that online learning is the equivalent of learning on your own, keep in mind that online programs are built upon communication, whereas at many universities each student is one face amongst hundreds in a lecture hall, making two-way communication nearly impossible.
Threats to Academic Integrity
Plagiarism, whether unintentional or deliberate, oftentimes results in serious sanctions implemented by the school. But in the age of the Internet, many students fall into the mistake of copying from original materials without proper citations. Such actions could be even more tempting for students who don't see their professors in person -- one more reason that online school requires strong self-discipline and maturity.
Online education, in essence, may celebrate individual differences as it transcends borders of geography and culture. However, these differences may also affect the success rates of students who intend to complete their online course. Factors such as self-motivation and being able to work alone comfortably may help predict whether a student has the greater tendency to finish the course successfully or fail at the end of the program.