Today, many people are engaging in some form of self-improvement activity. Bookstores, magazines,and newspapers are full of books and articles on how to be a better human being. If you want to be healthier, you diet. If you want to feel younger, you exercise. To expand your horizons, you travel or learn a foreign language. While these are all worthwhile activities, perhaps none are as important as continuing your education and obtaining a college degree.
Online education is no longer the wave of the future. It is here now! Around the country and, indeed, around the world, most colleges and universities provide some or all of their classes on the Internet. Some schools provide an entire degree program online. Thousands of people, from all walks of life, are getting an online college degree by taking these classes in the comfort of their own home.
Not long ago, distance learning was perceived as trendy, faddish and inferior. Today, however, "12% of all students are taking classes online and what they are learning is just as good as if they were sitting in classrooms and lecture halls," says Dr. I. Elaine Allen, Babson College associate professor of statistics.
A comprehensive survey released by Babson College and the Sloan Consortium concludes that online learning is just as good as traditional, face-to-face classroom instruction. The survey also reports that online learning is at historically high levels and predicts that it will continue to grow at an annual rate of nearly 20 percent.
The driving forces behind the phenomenal growth of online education are convenience and demand. Traditional colleges and universities set annual and semester schedules for when classes are offered. This is not the case with e-colleges and online courses. Students pursuing online degrees can take the courses they want, when they want, and are not confined to any set schedule of class offerings.
Online degree courses offer much more flexibility in the lives of the students. You can literally go to class in your pajamas since your classroom is your living room (or office), and you can work on your online degree any time of the day or night. Distance learning degrees are now available to the stay-at-home parent, the single parent, the working parent, working class men and women of all ages, and home bound men and women.
Potential students are no longer limited to local community classes, universities housed on large, far away campuses, or night schools. Online degree programs provide students with a method to pursue a valuable college degree without leaving their current job or living situation. A major part of the expense of a college education is the need to relocate to another town or city to live on or near the traditional campus. With online degree programs, however, students can continue with their current employment and fit classes in at their convenience.
Demand is the second force propelling the substantial growth of online degree programs. Many students, particularly adults, just want to finish their higher education as quickly and as inexpensively as possible. People learn at different rates and in many different ways. Most traditional college classes are geared toward the average learner, which means that some people get left behind, while others quickly get bored. Online courses allow students to set their own pace, so that they get the most value out of the classes they take.
An online college degree is more important than ever for several reasons. First, employers feel that we are presently in an employer's market. This means, simply, that there are more workers than jobs at the moment and consequently the employers can be more selective in the individuals they hire.
Secondly, jobs which pay the highest salaries are those that are the most specialized. Specialized occupations require more training/education, primarily because these jobs require the manipulation of facts, figures and technology.
Another factor driving people to obtain online degrees is the indisputable fact that the current jobs in the U.S. are becoming more and more service oriented. These jobs have relatively low wages and are labeled as "unskilled" work. Thus, to prepare yourself to qualify for a job paying higher wages, you need to retool or learn new skills and competencies.
Finally, we now live in a global economy which demands higher prices for homes, automobiles, utilities, medical care, and the like, without actually providing enough gainful employment opportunities. If you want to increase, restructure or enhance your wage earning abilities, an online degree is, indeed, a good place to begin.
The best online college let students apply past college credit and even relevant work experience towards their online degree programs. Some employers will even share the costs of your online education, because they appreciate your desire to improve your job skills--without leaving your job.
Online degrees have become widespread because we want them, and we need them. Investigate what an online degree can do for you. Search for a degree that interests you. Do some comparative research on the Web, then enroll in the classes and receive your online degree in a few short months. You'll be glad you did!
About the Author
Larry Denton is a retired history teacher having taught 33 years at Hobson High in Hobson, Montana. He is currently V.P. of Elfin Enterprises, Inc., an Internet business providing valuable information on a variety of timely topics. For a computer room full of advice, resources and suggestions about online degrees, visit http://www.OnlineDegreeNow.com