6 Myths About Online College Programs

I, Josepf Haslam, loved my online college experience. Of course I was initially drawn to looking at finishing my degree online because I needed the flexibility and convenience. Working full time with 3 young kids and traveling internationally meant that an online university program was about my only option. What I did not expect was how social and fulfilling the online program would be for me. I made lifelong friends. I had great interactions with my professors. All in all I found that the online courses were just as good or better an experience than I had with campus college programs. Don't let the myths about online college programs prevent you from making a great decision. Check out our article below and read through the infographic to help you with your decisions.

Online courses and degree programs continue to grow as an option for going to college.[i] More than 6.7 million students are turning to distance learning as a convenient, cost-effective way to earn a degree and sharpen their skills.[ii]

But some myths and questions about the quality and value of an online education persist. Will studying online really give you a good education? Could it help you get a job?

myths of online college

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We’ve compiled some information that helps you separate fact from fiction and gain a more accurate (and even eye-opening) perspective on online education. Here are a few stats to get you started:

  • 64.2% of traditional colleges offer online degree programs. [iii]
  • 32% of all college students have taken at least one course online. [iv]
  • 77% of academic leaders told a Sloane Consortium survey that online courses were equal to or superior than traditional in-person courses in terms of learning results. [v]
  • 79% of organizations participating in a 2010 survey by the Society for Human Resource Management reported that they had hired someone with an online degree in the past 12 months. [vi]

Intrigued? Click on the infographic on this page to get more facts and figures about online education. It could help you determine if distance learning is right for you.

Myth #1: Online Courses Are Not Accepted by Employers

According to a 2010 survey by the Society for Human Resource Management, 79% of employers said they hired someone with an online degree in the preceding 12 months. Employers can benefit from online programs because they gain a more skilled workforce, and their employees do not have to leave work to pursue a higher education.

Myth #2: Good Professors Don’t Want to Teach Online

Brick-and-mortar schools which also offer distance learning programs use the same curriculum and admissions standards whether a student is learning online or not. When issuing degrees or transcripts, those schools don't specify whether the courses were taken online or on campus, because they are the same courses. Schools that are accredited are expected to adhere to certain education standards. If classes or instructors are not up to par, schools risk being put on probation, or worse—losing their accreditation altogether. Moreover, institutions like Harvard and Cornell offer distance learning courses, and these are universities renowned for the quality of the education they provide.

Myth #3: Online Classes Are Easier Than In-Person Courses

As more students take online classes, the demand for improved quality has increased. And according to the Sloan Consortium, there are 77% of academic leaders who said learning results in online courses were equal to or superior to traditional courses.

Myth #4: Respected Schools Don’t Offer Online Courses

More than 64% of traditional colleges offer online programs, according to onlinelearningsurvey.com. There are also some very well-known and prestigious colleges and universities that offer distance learning courses including New York University (NYU)Boston UniversityGeorge Washington UniversityNorthwestern, UMassOnline, and University of Southern California (USC), to name a few.

Myth #5: Online Students Aren’t Smart

Many online students are adults who have already earned an undergraduate degree or credits through classroom learning and have just gone back to school via distance learning to upgrade their skill set or earn a graduate degree. According to Aslanian Research, some 47% of online students already have some college education.

Myth #6: Online Courses Are For Anti-Social People

Many online classes are held via webcams and chat rooms, enabling students to listen to course lectures by instructors and interact with other students. And according to detc.org, the more than 60% of online students choose distance learning programs to either accommodate their work schedule or for the convenience factor.

[i] nces.ed.gov/pubs2012/2012154.pdf  |   [ii] educationdynamics.com/getattachment/Market-Research/White-Papers/ONLINE-LEARNERS-2013.pdf.aspx  |  [iii] onlinelearningsurvey.com/reports/changingcourse.pdf  |  [iv] sloanconsortium.org/publications/survey/changing_course_2012  |  [v]  onlinelearningsurvey.com/reports/changingcourse.pdf  |  [vi] shrm.org/Research/SurveyFindings/Articles/Pages/HiringPracticesandAttitudes.aspx


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