"Online courses are easier"
Online courses from reputable institutions may very well be harder than the same course in a classroom setting.
Along with covering the same material, students must be self-motivated and good at managing their time. Unlike some
classroom courses, no one is babysitting you, and you probably aren’t surrounded by people taking the same class.
"Online degrees are not respected"
The key here is, are you attending an accredited program? The same accrediting bodies monitor online education as
monitor traditional colleges. Institutional accreditation refers to an entire institution’s accreditation status.
Programmatic accreditation refers to one particular program (i.e. an engineering, nursing, or social work school). If
you are not sure whether or not an online program is well respected in regards to accreditation practices. Some
important questions to ask include:
- Does the organization allow accredited status (or degrees) to be purchased?
- Are few, if any, standards for quality published by the organization?
- Is the organization’s name similar to those used by recognized accrediting agencies (but not exactly the
- Does the organization make claims for which there is no evidence?
- Are there few requirements for accreditation (or graduation)?
"Online courses only take place on the computer"
Just as traditional courses begin in the classroom, and oftentimes send students out into the world around them.
Online courses often prompt students to begin field research, projects in the community, and research at local
libraries. Just because a course is online does not mean it doesn’t involve utilizing resources elsewhere.
"Online courses do not tailor instruction to individual students"
Here is where you really need to be honest with yourself about what type of learner you are. Some students are
comfortable working through online materials alone, and others need interaction with their peers, demonstrations, and Q
and A time with their instructors. The latter type of learners should check to see if the courses they are embarking
upon offer virtual meetings with the instructors. Many courses offer weekly consultations on skype, via chat, or even
on the phone with instructors. This component of a program is oftentimes mentioned on the program’s website, or on a
course by course basis on syllabi.
"Students are much more likely to cheat online"
Studies have shown that students are no less likely to cheat in an online environment than in a traditional
classroom setting. Many online testing programs provide ways to track and deter cheating behavior, and, over time
professors become good at identifying the “voice” of student writing, answers, and test taking habits.
"There are no attendance policies in online classes"
For some classes this is true. But for many classes, particularly with live video feeds, there are attendance
policies very similar to traditional classes. If you are not able to commit to saving the time for when the class is
held, make sure to check the attendance policy!
"Online classes do not require the purchasing of a physical textbook"
For some classes, all of the materials are online. And many online classes do have more materials online than
traditional classes. Many online courses, however, do require the purchasing of many of the same materials a
traditional class would require. Consult the class syllabi.
"All I have to do is turn in the homework on time and take exams"
Online discussions are often required. Even if not required, those that participate in online discussion often
receive higher grades in the course. Discussion is a crucial part of mastering a topic.
"Online education works for everyone"
No, online education works best for somewhat skilled and highly motivated students. Many studies show that
students that are already struggling very much benefit from having face to face interactions with a student peer group