Online Learning

Top Challenges of Getting an Online Degree

The online degree is a fairly recent phenomenon, taking off in force only in the past few years. We’ve all heard about the benefits, but what are the challenges inherent in getting an online degree?

The main problem faced by students is the fact that ultimately, they are isolated from the rest of the academic community. Their classmates could be on the other side of the planet, they may never have met their tutor in the flesh, or they may simply be too busy to devote the time to studying and building up relationships. Distance learning is not necessarily conducive to a good social life, and it can involve long hours at home alone. It can seem very lonely at times.

A lot of students find the lack of close personal contact between classmates and the tutor to be a little unsettling, especially those used to on-campus academic study. The learning style takes some adapting to, as most courses are necessarily text-heavy. Although video-conferencing technology has allowed facial expression and body language to enter the online classroom, it’s still no substitute for a flesh-and-blood advisor to go to when everything seems to be going against you.

Many older students, in particular, also find it difficult to get to grips with the new technologies involved. Message boards, chat rooms, and teleconferences can seem quite arcane to the uninitiated, and a lot of people find themselves needing to take a computer skills course prior to starting their online degree. While this ultimately adds to their skill base in the long run, it can be seen as a barrier to entry by some students.

The fourth major problem presented is the simple cost of an online degree. While in the UK online study is almost always cheaper than studying on-campus, in the United States it is often the opposite case—universities and colleges use their online students’ fees to subsidize and support on-campus courses and accommodation. Some students find themselves having to take time off of work, or a reduction in working hours, in order to study which can impose a financial burden that many find to be untenable.

While online study is not without its own unique set of challenges, for many people overcoming them is part of the experience. When all is said and done, as far as many students are concerned, the benefits of online study far outweigh the potential negatives.

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Online Learning