Is An Online University Right For You?

Time To Read 3 MIN READ

Date: August 10, 2016

Working adults who want to further their education may not be able to quit their jobs or decrease their employment hours to do so. Juggling work life with the responsibilities of taking care of a family may not leave much room for a traditional campus university education. One option is to enroll with an online university so you can study on your schedule. Be sure to do plenty of research on the countless schools offering online degrees before you sign on that dotted line.


The Pros of Online Education

A big pro of an online education is the ability to study from anywhere with an Internet connection. Course material is typically available 24/7, so you can study anytime and even review lectures and other materials whenever necessary. Add a web cam to your computer and participate in a virtual classroom, which adds face-to-face discussions to the mix. Get to know your fellow classmates via email or through other types of social media. You might even find an online "study buddy."


The Cons of Online Education

Some drawbacks of online education include the risk of having outdated technology, or Internet service that is slow or prone to outages. But one of the biggest factors that may prevent you from completing your online education is your own temperament. Boston University Distance Education, part of the traditional institution, provides a pre-enrollment survey that asks questions such as whether you prefer a face-to-face learning scenario and if you are self-motivated.


It asks about your level of computer skills and whether you're comfortable with mostly virtual communications. Self-evaluation is important. If you don't have the drive to sit down at the computer on a regular although unscheduled basis, you may have difficulty earning that online degree.


Price Comparison — Online vs. On-Campus Educations

Colorado State University offers both an on-campus education experience and online degrees through their Colorado State University Global Campus. Looking at costs for the 2015-2016 academic year, full-time undergraduate students opting for the campus life pay roughly $10,590 in tuition, $1,140 for books and $11,526 for housing and meals. Transportation costs average $674 and miscellaneous educational expenses run $1,360. One year of college, with 15 credits per semester, runs $25,290.

At the Global Campus, you only pay for tuition and books for most degrees. Tuition is charged per course, rather than per year. An undergraduate course with three credits runs $1,050, or $350 per credit. A tuition planning service calculates the total amount of your degree before you enroll. The estimates include a reduction for any transfer credits put toward your degree.


Choosing Your Online School

Students who get their degrees from established universities with online options often fare better with hiring managers than those who attend private, for-profit online schools. The University of Phoenix is an example of the latter. The school has been reviewed by the U.S. Education Department concerning its financial aid issues, dropout rates and after-graduation employment statistics.


Another example is Kaplan University. In Texas, students graduating with licensed practical nursing certificates made less money than those who went to the public St. Philip's College, $37,730 compared to $42,760 annually. The student loan debt at Kaplan averaged $1,759 per year, while students at St Phillips owed roughly $764 for their two-year degrees.