1. Education
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Discuss in my forum

5 Myths of Online Education - Debunked!

5 misconceptions about online courses


For many people considering going back to school or earning a degree, a traditional college setting isn’t an option — many are working full time, raising a family, or are possibly serving our country overseas. Online education is an alternative solution that provides the access and flexibility that on-campus courses do not. With numerous degree programs available, online education is a great option for those with hectic lifestyles who need to study on their own time — when and where they can. However, there are some lingering misconceptions about the credibility of online degrees. It’s important to clarify these misconceptions, as many online programs offer students the opportunity to learn from the same faculty, engage with the same curriculum, and obtain degrees from certified programs as their on-the-ground counterparts.


1. Online Degrees Are Not Respected by Employers

Professional Certification by Steve Cole / Getty Images
Steve Cole / Getty Images

One of the most popular misconceptions of online education is that the degrees are less credible and won’t be viewed favorably by potential employers. A national survey conducted by Zogby revealed that nearly two-thirds of employers familiar with online education believe the degrees earned are as credible as those earned through a traditional program. 

2. Online Degrees Are Not Certified Degrees

Teacher of Adults by Stockbyte - Getty Images
Stockbyte - Getty Images
Many Americans believe online degrees are easily obtained and aren’t certified; however, most online programs are accredited and offer courses taught by experienced professors. Arizona State University, for example, offers online classes led by the same nationally-renowned faculty that teach on campus.

3. Online Education Provides No Interaction with the Professor

Laptop and Coffee by Jupiterimages - Getty Images
Jupiterimages - Getty Images
A lack of one-on-one attention is often an issue people point out about online education. Many people believe that because they aren’t face-to-face with a professor, their needs will not be met, when in fact, many programs offer multiple ways to interact with students – discussion boards, email, chat rooms, live-streamed lectures, etc. Additionally, research shows that the outcomes of those pursuing online degrees do not differ from those sitting in a classroom, and for many students, online courses encourage stronger dialogue and interaction.

4. Online Degrees Are Not Engaging

Woman and laptop by Geri Lavrov - Getty Images
Geri Lavrov - Getty Images

Some potential students voice concern over the ability to connect and share resources with fellow students in online courses, but in addition to discussion boards required by courses for the curriculum, most programs offer a space for students to chat about homework and allow them to connect for study groups. Some online programs even offer a separate resource outside of the course to help students acclimate to the program by offering tips for success, student spotlights, and curriculum and study resources, such as Arizona State University’s Succeed Online resource center.

5. Online Degrees Are Easy and Take Less Time to Complete

Studying at home by Marili Forastieri - Getty Images
Marili Forastieri - Getty Images

Online courses are often thought of as easier to complete, when in fact, many programs advise students that online classes are more challenging than campus-based courses. Obtaining an online degree requires self-discipline, time management skills, commitment, and the ability to keep procrastination at bay, which poses a challenge for many students. 

Words of Advice

Some advice for students pursuing online degree programs is to not burn out in the first semester. Many students overload on courses at the front end, trying to rush through completing their degree. Taking too many courses at once hurts students mentally and emotionally, and will negatively affect grade point averages. So while obtaining a degree online is a convenient option for those with busy lifestyles, online courses are not an easier way to earn a degree. They require the same level of dedication and commitment as traditional degree programs, and students will achieve a degree they can be proud of as a result.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.