Are the Best Online Universities Better than Traditional Colleges and Career Schools?

Getting a degree online brings multiple benefits to those who may not have had an opportunity to get a college degree from a traditional school. For those with families or full-time job commitments, attending classes on campus may have been difficult to impossible to achieve, but with online universities, non-traditional students can finally get the degrees they seek. Another hindrance to some students is the cost of traditional colleges. Many online universities offer more affordable opportunities to get a higher education.

The benefits of online universities are many. Online universities provide flexible scheduling and, frequently, accelerated programs that allow students to do more studying in a shorter time frame, thereby allowing students to complete their studies more quickly. While many like to cite the fact that online programs rob students of the opportunity to participate in face-to-face discussions, the reality is that online classes do not allow students to sit quietly without participating as actually happens quite often in traditional classrooms. Not having to drive to and from a campus, working in the comfort of your own home, and the reduced cost of book expenses that may be eliminated due to online access to these same materials are other important benefits to attending an online university. But how do these online universities measure up to traditional colleges and career schools? Is it worth spending the time and money on an online degree when compared to traditional schools?

While online schools originally had a shady reputation, the tide has begun to turn and many reputable online universities are offering high-quality education to students who may never step foot on a campus. Not only has public opinion shifted with respect to online education, but more importantly, so has the perception among the educators making decisions about providing online education. A 2006 study by the Sloan Consortium indicates that 62% of chief academic officers at schools already engaged in online education believe that "the quality of online instruction is no more difficult than for face-to-face, and an increasing majority view the quality of online education as the same or better than face-to-face instruction."

In addition, those in charge of hiring graduates from both traditional and online schools are also looking favorably upon online education. Not only do a large majority of employers now see online education as credible as a traditional education, they are also willing to hire qualified students with online degrees. One field that seems especially accepting of online degrees is the field of Business Administration. Estimates from 2005 indicated that 40% of MBA students were enrolled in online degree programs. With the high standards of many online MBA programs and a perspective from employers that those students working online are also managing to hold down full-time careers, many employers welcome online graduates.