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Online Classes and Colleges: the Pros and the Cons

Over a decade ago, I heard about people taking online classes. My first impression was "Online classes, you have to be kidding?" Over the years, I have learned to be less skeptical and be much more respectful of online classes and degrees. Without a doubt, online classes and degrees can be a legitimate and credible way to obtain a degree. However, there are things that you have to know when taking an online class or seeking an online degree. Following are some of the pros and cons of taking online classes, especially from a totally online college. Before presenting you with a list of pros and cons, you have to be aware that as appealing as online classes sound, online classes are not for everyone. Another thing to take VERY SERIOUSLY, is that you have to pay attention to whether the online classes, degree, or program is from an ACCREDITED, legitimate, credible school. Whether you try to obtain a degree or financial aid for college, you need to be aware that there are PLENTY of SCAMS out there. You NEED to investigate whether the source of classes or financial aid is from an ACCREDITED, legitimate, credible source.

Having said all of that, here are some Pros, Cons, and Tips that you need to consider when looking to take online classes or seek an online degree from a totally online school.

The PROS of taking online classes or getting a degree from an online college:

The CONS of taking online classes or getting a degree from a totally online college:

As convenient, flexible, and GREAT as online classes are for so many people, there are issues that people have to consider. The pros are obvious, but the cons may take some explanation.

Following are some magazine and journal articles that give some information about the pros and cons of online classes. If your local library does not have the article, please ask them to interlibrary loan the article for you. Most libraries will interlibrary loan the article for free.

Carnivale, Dan. "Employers Often Distrust Online Degrees." Chronicle of Higher Education. January 2007: pA28. Print.

This is an EXCELLENT article. If you are concerned about the value of online classes OR an online degree from a totally online school, then you might want to take a look at this 2007 article. The author does a very good job of presenting why some employers are reluctant to accept potential employees with online degrees. Carnivale says "To those officials, the words 'online education' conjure up images of those spam e-mail messages that promise Ph.D in exchange for $5,000 and a bit of 'life experience.'" Another excerpt from this excellent article gives a more positive view of online degrees by stating "acceptance of online degrees may be growing among managers, however. The employers who are most skeptical of online education are the ones who seem to know the least about it. The more they learned, researchers found, the more comfortable they were." As this article states, "because many traditional colleges offer online degrees, graduates of those programs can often apply for jobs without the hiring manager ever noticing that the courses were delivered over the Internet."

Clark, Kim. "New Answers for E-Learning." U.S. News & World Report. 21 January 2008: 48-9. Print.

This magazine article mentions pros and cons such as making sure that the school is accredited and reputable. Make sure that the classes can transfer. Some different pros and cons are covered here that are not covered in other articles.

Columbrao, Nora L., and Catherine H. Monaghan. "Employer Perceptions of Online Degrees: A Literature Review." Online Journal of Distance Learning

          Administration 12.1 (Spring 2009). This study can be found online at

This is an excellent research study from a credible peer-reviewed journal giving the pros and cons of the perceptions that employers, as well as other people have, of students achieving their degree from a totally online school. Both sides of this issue are covered very well in this study.

Heubeck, Elizabeth. "Higher Ed Professionals' Perspectives on Online Education." Diverse Issues in Higher Education. 16 October 2008: 30-31. Print.

College professors give their opinions on the pros and cons of online classes. Convenience is mentioned as well as students tending to give more thoughtful responses when taking online classes. On the other side, online classes require the student to be mature, disciplined, and self-motivated. This article warns of "shams" out there so "buyer beware."

Terrell, Kenneth. "How Do I Choose a Program?" U.S. News & World Report. 16 October 2006: 68-69. Print.

This magazine article covers the importance of determining if the program is legitimate, knowing computer skills, and a little of the inner workings of taking an online class.


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