Many students hesitate to enrol in online and distance learning programmes. One reason for this hesitation may be from the false impression that is often given about distance learning programmes.
For one reason or another, distance learning programmes have received an unfair reputation for not offering decent degree programmes, and for not having high-quality teaching standards to help students in their career goals. Several people have fallen for myths that are spread about online and distance learning; but, through careful examination, they will discover that these myths are false.
So, if you’re interested in learning more information about enrolling in a distance learning programme, but are afraid to make the commitment, we’re here to offer you some insights to destroy and debunk any illusions or false impressions you may have about distance learning.
We will list the 5 most common myths about online and distance learning programmes, and provide real facts to tell you why you should ignore them. At the end of reading here, hopefully, you will be convinced that distance learning isn’t so scary after all.
Myth 1: Online courses have zero value on the job market
False! While it is true that there are several non-accredited online degree programmes that are not widely regarded on the job market, these are exceptions to the rule. There are plenty of distance learning programmes that have been authorized, accredited, recognized, and approved by regional and national organisations for academic and educational standards.
Distance learning programmes are highly valued on the job market, and in fact, have given students highly-skilled training in the careers of their choice.
Employers and graduate schools recognize the daily burdens and constraints that people may have and, therefore, understand why many students would need to take an online, distance learning programme, rather than a more traditional in-person education. Therefore, most of them welcome and encourage students to take online courses to get the degree that they require.
These degree programmes are offered at accredited, highly-respected organizations and universities. Students with these degrees are valuable and competitive on the job market, and if you graduate from one of these distance learning programmes, you can rest assured that you will be taken seriously in your career.
Here are some excellent universities that offer great online and distance learning programmes that are also accredited by regional and national authorities:
Myth 2: Distance learning courses are stupid-simple
False! When students hear about taking courses online, they think it’s just one long relaxing vacation, and all they have to do is log on for a few minutes a week just to prove they took their classes.
In fact, when students decide to join an online programme they discover that not only are the courses as demanding and rigorous as a traditional classroom; students actually find that these courses come with a totally new set of challenges.
Many students are not used to how much self-management and self-discipline online classes demand. When you take online classes, you’re not given a regular schedule, with regular hours, and a structured course to work with. Rather, online classes demand you to work out your own schedule, motivating yourself to sit down and work on your own, without anyone telling you to do so.
For first-time university students especially, this can be quite different from what you’re used to. In essence, online courses really expect you to be your own teacher, and to work on your own terms. This does not mean you can do whatever you want, and neglect your work when you feel like it. It means that you must manage your own assignments without someone telling you when or how to do them.
Myth 3: The online courses are impossibly difficult
False! Paradoxically, Myth 2 and Myth 3 exist at the same time, despite reflecting the exact opposite belief. Confusing, I know.
Yet, it is still widely assumed among many students that distance learning programmes and online courses are specifically designed to be impossibly difficult. This belief assumes also that these programmes are made difficult so that their programmes appear to have the same competitive rigour as traditional schools, and so that the programmes can get more money from students who fail and re-take their courses.
This myth is false, and so are these assumptions. Online programmes don’t need to make their classes impossible in order for the degrees to have high academic value; they simply have to deliver the same academic standards that traditional schools, without the benefit of in-person, face-to-face lectures and discussion.
So, the courses instead do ask the students to do extra work and make more effort. This effort is not meant to trick students or make the education impossible. You’re merely asked to take your courses as seriously as you would at a regular university.
Myth 4: Professors who teach online classes are not real professors
False! Universities who offer online distance learning programmes don’t pick just anyone to lead their classes; many of the lectures and lessons are taught by world-renowned professors in their field.
Don’t believe me? According to a 2014 report from The Economist, a popular political science professor at Harvard, Michael Sandel, agreed to translate the same lectures that he delivered to Bachelor’s students at Harvard into online lectures for edX, setting a trend for other popular and engaging professors to follow suit.
These professors usually agree to teach online classes because they believe that their lessons ought to reach a wider audience. They’re not looking for more money (because there isn’t, in fact, more money), and they’re not trying to get away with easier lessons (in fact, the lessons are more demanding). They simply hope that their classes can be delivered to students who otherwise cannot afford to sit in a traditional, on-campus classroom.
Still, students can expect that well-established and recognized names in each field will lead these classes, with the same ability to lead and instruct students with their expertise.
Myth 5: Online degrees are only designed for business students
False! While it is true that MBA programmes are quite prevalent among distance learning and online programmes, they don’t cover the entire story. Rather students can expect to take classes in nearly any field of their choosing, and there are distance learning programmes in fields as diverse as psychology, social science, liberal arts, nursing, and education.
Most students don’t realise how many opportunities are available to them through distance learning, and often they are misinformed about what these programmes are and how they work.
These myths continue to persist and keep people from taking distance learning programmes. But if you learn the truth about distance learning programmes and that they are, in fact, great, affordable, highly rigorous, and interesting opportunities, maybe you will decide that distance learning is a good choice after all.