May 18, 2011 | pritter | 1 Comment 1. What is distance learning or online college? Distance learning or online college utilizes the internet to bring college courses to students rather than requiring the students to attend a class at a campus location. Distance learning has been around since the late 1980’s, but online educational institutions have made a huge impact in the last 10 years. Students can pay tuition and take classes on their home PC or laptop whenever and wherever they wish. Students must pass examinations and receive grades just like a traditional college, except the students work on a computer and do all their class work and testing on their computer. 2. Is a degree from an online school as good as an online degree from a traditional school? Degrees earned from online institutions are just as valid as degrees earned from traditional colleges. Many traditional colleges and universities (Yale, Harvard, Columbia, USC, Ohio State, etc.) utilize online education to provide classes when the student can’t attend class on campus or who work far away from the campus. The value of a degree from an online college is the same as the value from a traditional college teaching the same classes and graduating students. 3. Are online classes easier than campus classes? No, the classes are not easier. Accessing classes is easier and in many cases, it is easier to review information and lectures on the computer. But the material taught and the examinations are just as difficult as those classes and exams are at a traditional school. Online colleges and universities are accredited by US government-sponsored agencies and many online colleges have programs accredited by regional accreditation agencies which have the same academic standards for coursework, faculty credentials, administration policies, financial strength, and all other areas of teaching students responsibly. 4. Is it faster to get an online degree than a traditional campus-based degree? In some cases, it is faster to receive a degree from an online college or university than it is from a traditional college. The reason for this is that students are allowed to take classes on their own schedule. Some students learn faster than others and because they don’t have to attend a traditional campus classroom to learn from a professor on a set schedule of classes, the online student can complete, take the exams for, and pass their classes at their own speed. However, the number of credit hours required to receive a diploma are the same as for traditional students on campus. Generally, the credit hours are as follows: Associate’s degree – 90 credit hours, Bachelor’s degree – 180 credit hours, Master’s degree – 90 hours. 5. How do students pick the right online college? With so many choices available, the problem isn’t finding a school, the problem is having so many schools to choose from. Normally, an online student can look through the 100’s of online schools to see which offers a curriculum suited to their needs. There are also many websites which have search engines utilizing the student’s areas of interest, budget, academic experience and other factors which help find candidate schools suitable for the student’s educational needs. 6. Do employers discriminate against online educated graduates? Most employers do not discriminate against graduates of online colleges. In fact, many employers are now providing scholarships to employees who wish to attend an online school to better their education and to move up in employment opportunities. Distance learning, in large part, started because companies wanted a way to educate large numbers of employees at the same time. Many employers offer online students internships and work closely with the career placement offices at online colleges and universities. 7. Which costs more, online college or traditional college? There are several factors which affect college costs. However, for the most part, online college costs less than traditional college. The main reason for this is that the online student doesn’t have to commute and can live at home while attending classes. For many students, this reduces the cost of an education significantly. The tuition cost for online classes can be less than the tuition for classes at traditional schools, but there are additional fees for online classes that aren’t charged for traditional learning. One study recently found that online college, for students living at home with their parents, can cost one-fourth the cost of a traditional student attending an out-of-state school. 8. Can credits from a traditional college be transferred to an online school? For the most part, credits earned at traditional colleges can be transferred to an online school. Each case is unique and it is up to the receiving institution to determine how many hours will be accepted but because the majority of traditional colleges are accredited by regional accreditation agencies, the credits earned at the traditional college will be accepted by an online college. 9. How do students know if the online school is good or not? Students have to be their own advocate when it comes to determining the quality of an online school. Students should always determine the online college’s accreditation and they can further investigate a potential school by contacting the accrediting agency’s offices or going online to search for negative articles or recent problems with a potential school. The US government maintains a website which lists accredited institutions and their current standing. 10. Do any online schools have classrooms for teaching? Some schools do use classroom instruction as a part of their curriculum, others don’t. Students who need to meet with an instructor or advisor can do so with some online colleges who maintain campuses or offices in cities throughout the United States. However, most online colleges do not use classrooms for teaching. 11. Are students on their own when they sign up for online classes? Not by a long shot! Online schools have long seen the need for admissions counselors, academic advisors, student support staff and the other important student-centric activities in which all colleges engage. In many respects, for online students, these support staff are more accessible and available than at a traditional campus. Advisors and counselors are available by telephone or online to help students deal with any issues that might arise. 12. Can students receive advanced degrees from online schools? Master’s and Doctoral degrees are available from many schools online. Doctoral candidates normally must meet with faculty advisors as a part of their degree program, but most Master’s programs do not hold this requirement. 13. Are there limitations to online education? Yes, there are some limitations. Students in certain educational disciplines will not be able to benefit from online learning when lab classes or field studies are required for their diploma. Students in chemistry, engineering, pre-med, and other disciplines will still need to attend school at a traditional campus. 14. Are there scholarships and grants available to online students? Yes, there are many scholarships and grants available. Most online schools have advisors who help a student apply for these programs as well as for Federal loans and other financial resources. Online schools even offer their own scholarship programs for students. Most federal, state, and private grants and scholarships can be used for an online education. 15. If a student stops taking classes at an online school, do they have start at the beginning when they go back? No, many online schools expect a student to have interruptions in their education and make provisions to assist students during these times. Many online students are working professionals and as such, require the ability to stop and start their educations around their employment. 16. How do students pay for online college classes? Just like a traditional college, a student signs up for classes and pays for it with grants, scholarships, loans, credit cards and any other financial resource available. Classes are paid for in advance, each semester, along with fees and other charges. 17. Do students buy books and other materials for online college? Yes, students can purchase textbooks and other materials. Frequently, online colleges utilize E-books rather than textbooks, which saves the student a lot of money. 18. What do students need to take online classes? Online students need a good computer or laptop and printer with an internet connection. 19. Are online instructors as good as traditional campus instructors? Online instructors are evaluated the same as traditional college faculty instructors. Teaching credentials are just as important to an online school as they are to any other accredited institution. There are no separate standards for online schools versus traditional colleges and universities. 20. Are online examinations easier than campus-based college exams? No, online examinations are just as stringent and difficult as traditional college exams. That’s why students with diplomas from online colleges and universities are as readily accepted as their traditional counterparts when it comes to employment value. 21. If a student graduates from an online college, can they get into a traditional campus Master’s or Doctoral program? Yes, a student with a diploma from an online college or university can be accepted to a traditional campus’ Master’s or Doctoral program. Students need to be sure their online school has accreditation from a recognized agency and the grades necessary for acceptance into the Master’s or Doctoral program. 22. Is it easier to be accepted by an online college than by a traditional college? Yes, in many cases it is easier, but not because online schools have lower standards. Online schools are not limited by class size or instructor availability, so they can educate thousands more students and can therefore accept many more students into their programs. 23. Are online colleges popular? Of the 3.5 million students attending schools, almost half of them are online students. Online education has skyrocketed in terms of popularity and availability. Because the schools go to the student, the popularity and ease of access are making online education the new paradigm in teaching. 24. Can a student take classes even though they work full time? Absolutely! Online college is designed for the working adult. Classes can be taken at any time and from any location with internet access. This makes online education ideal for professionals seeking to improve their employment status while they continue working. 25. Is it okay to take classes from an online college that is outside a student’s state of residence? Yes, it is the reason most students go for an online education. Some online colleges charge different rates for tuition from in-state and out-of-state students, but for the most part, online colleges are designed for students from anywhere in the world to take their classes with ease.