Common Misconceptions About Online Degree Programs
You can’t have it all, and you must sacrifice something for the convenience of online degrees, right? For many adult and returning learners, that’s not the case. Here are some pervasive misconceptions about online degrees, as well as the truth you need to know:
Myth: Online schools are easy.
Some people choose online degree programs specifically because they hope they will be easier. This strategy can backfire if employers believe a recent graduate sailed through classes without ever facing a challenge. Yet, online coursework can be as rigorous as traditional learning if you choose the right school. It’s true that the structure of online classes makes it easier for some students to complete their degrees, because online classes offer more control over one’s schedule. The work a student does, however, will be just as difficult if you choose the right school. According to Jamel, “The workload does not change because of the online status. In fact, I find the workload in class smaller. The amount of reading and videos are more intense due to the fact that the lecture time spent in class has to be read,” she explained.
"I tell anyone that is trying to decide to make such an important decision of going back to school, to be sure. Be prepared to work hard and have fun. Be prepared to be uplifted, encouraged, and inspired. Stay focused and stay hungry. Nothing is impossible, and all goals are attainable with SNU on your side,"
- Jamel Wilson – MBA Graduate, SNU Online
Myth: Employers don’t respect online degrees.
A Northwestern University survey found that 71 percent of employers had hired someone with an online degree in the last year. The same study found that 55 percent of HR leaders believe online programs are as good as traditional programs; 39 percent believe online programs are the superior option. Your online coursework shows your commitment to your career. Moreover, as virtual learning becomes more popular, more employers gain an understanding of the benefits of this educational structure.
Myth: Online credits won’t transfer.
At accredited online institutions, coursework is highly rigorous. This means credits are very likely to transfer, but you’ll need to understand the type of accreditation each school has in order to be sure. Each school must have the same type of accreditation for the same program, so national accreditations may not transfer to schools with regional accreditation, and vice versa. This remains true whether the coursework is online or in-person; what matters is the type of accreditation, not the modality of learning.
Myth: You can’t meet with or get to know your professor.
Good relationships with instructors can open doors. Your professor may write you a recommendation letter, help you connect to employers, or offer career suggestions. Many online students worry that their instructor will be a faceless, distant narrator. At quality schools, professors are actively engaged with their students. You can email them any time, plan video chats, and enlist extra assistance when you need them. Online instructors are deeply committed to their students. Because they do not have to juggle the competing demands of traditional educational settings, they may also have more time to help you. Tiffany agreed that professors are accessible in an online setting, explaining, “I have really tried to form relationships with my instructors as much as possible, even if it is only via email or text. They have all been very easy to connect with and understanding when questions arise late in the evening.”
Myth: You can’t make friends or get to know other students.
Returning to school is about more than your coursework. It’s a chance to build new friendships and nurture a strong professional network. This is possible even when you take classes online. You’ll get to know other students through message boards and collaborative endeavors. You can also participate in study groups or plan student meetups. Many online students find that they have lots in common with their peers, who are often busy professionals or parents just like they are. “There are a few of us that actually meet in person when we have the ability to meet to discuss and help each other understand the material.”