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5 Common Misconceptions About Online Learning

January 16, 2019 9:55am

Misconception #1 – The quality of education is lower than traditional degrees

Just because your online classes give you the flexibility to attend them from the comfort of your own home in your pajamas does not mean your college education is any less worthy than that of a learner attending classes in a brick and mortar setting. In fact, accredited colleges offer online degree programs with just as much quality as on-ground programs.

Not only can online classes be taken from anywhere – they can also be taught from anywhere. This means in many cases online courses are being taught by a wider variety of experienced faculty from various regions of the country or world who bring more diverse life and career experiences to their online classrooms.

Misconception #2 – It’s easier to complete an online degree

While online degrees grant learners more flexibility, they are not easier to earn. At reputable colleges, online degree programs may actually be more time consuming than degrees earned on ground.

“Some learners have the idea that it will be much easier to complete an online degree as opposed to earning it in a traditional setting, but that’s really not always the case,” says Trina Williams, Southwestern College admissions counselor. “Our learners are able to earn their degree more quickly because of the condensed six-week course offerings, but that also means they often times must take extra steps to manage their time well in order to be successful.”

Misconception #3 – Online degrees are not as well respected by employers

While the preference of an online or a traditional degree may depend on individual employers, degrees earned online are gaining in popularity across the country and are becoming more accepted. According to the Babson Survey Research Group Higher Education Report, online student enrollment saw an increase for the 14th straight year in 2016.

“The pendulum has shifted with respect to the value of online degrees,” says Mike Leamy, associate vice president for academic affairs for Southwestern College Professional Studies.
“Many employers would prefer to see graduates from online programs as it demonstrates the ability to work with the type of technology that is present and needed in today’s workplace.”

It’s worth noting that at most institutions, a diploma for a degree earned online will look no different than one earned in a traditional setting. A bachelor’s or master’s degree earned online is held in the same regard as a degree earned on a physical campus.

Misconception #4 – There is little interaction with classmates and instructors

Though learners might not be physically sitting in a classroom next to their classmates, that doesn’t mean they won’t interact with them and their instructors. Similarly with popular social media platforms, they’ll communicate online.

Students typically have access to a virtual learning environment, where they participate in weekly discussions with their fellow classmates and instructors. Online students are granted the opportunity to interact with others in their class from various places around the globe who bring different life, career and education experiences to share.

“My professors have been great at emailing back quickly and they do Zoom sessions or weekly intro videos to introduce the topics of the week,” says Jennifer Carpenter, a current online learner. “I have had plenty of opportunities to interact with others.”

Misconception #5 – There isn’t as much support from faculty and staff

On the contrary, technology has made it increasingly easier over the years to communicate with instructors and staff who support online degree programs. There is email, video conferencing and virtual learning environments where learners can reach out for assistance.

“Today, engagement, collaboration, and instruction throughout each week on the part of the instructor is an essential element for each learner’s success in an online course, and therefore an expectation of all Southwestern College Professional Studies’ instructors,” says Arthur Smith, executive director of faculty affairs for Southwestern College Professional Studies. “That, in tandem with the use of multiple forms of communication technologies, enables instructors to be more available to connect with, engage, collaborate with, and support learners than a leaner might experience in a traditional on-ground course.”

Along with experienced faculty, online learners are usually provided with academic advisors who assist them with degree planning, tips on time management, navigating college policies and procedures, and other items that come along as they work toward degree completion.

Regionally accredited, nonprofit Southwestern College offers a variety of online undergraduate and graduate degree courses taught by expert faculty who bring real-world applications to the online classroom setting. For more information, review online learning FAQs.

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