Progress is happening so fast these days; we are in danger of becoming engulfed – and ungrateful. The onset of the online degree is already making a difference to many people’s lives. Subject options are still limited in online degrees, however, which means not all of us can yet fulfill our dreams online.
The majority of online colleges offer a core set of vocational, online programs, the most popular of which are usually online mbas, online paralegal studies and wireless computer networking. Should we be disgruntled or accepting, or can we expect the number of online degrees to increase in the future?
Cynics and critics of the online degree attack the blatant moneymaking strategies of many online universities, and the relatively small list of programs available – the rest of which are usually marketing, computer science, animation, computer programming, linux-unix, psychology, accounting, engineering, networking, teacher education and criminal justice degrees online. Personally, I can’t see their problem. Online universities have to make money like any other organization, and they have to run profitable programs.
Vocational programs such as online mbas, online paralegal studies and wireless computer networking online make sense for several reasons:
- Programs such as online mbas fit in with, and enhance, the students existing occupation.
- The working student can afford the program, and the time spent on study is less likely to be wasted.
- Students of vocational courses are more likely to stick to their degree as it has a real, demonstrable chance of improving their salary.
- As a related topic, sticking to vocational courses allow the colleges to improve their course delivery techniques with popular programs before branching out into more unusual subjects.
There will always be some degrees that are difficult to carry out online, such as medicine and teaching. Fully qualified teachers and doctors can expect more postgraduate, specialist study to be offered online, but, for many new high school graduates, a traditional campus-based program will always be the best bet.
People who have an existing degree, or who have been working for a few years, have a good idea of the working environment – and of their goals for the future. Online mbas are particularly popular among women because they remove the potentially masculine classroom environment of the online mba, but allow them to compete with their male peers by gaining vital additional qualifications.
The computer based, vocational online degrees make particularly good sense. The top ten jobs in the US continue to be in IT, and IT professionals already skilled in programming will find online study such as linux-unix, animation and wireless computer networking a relatively easy and convenient addition to their skill-set.
It would be wonderful to think of a world where subjects from literature to law could be studied online – we are just not there yet. Online paralegal studies allow administrative staff to move into the fascinating world of law, and paralegal jobs continue to be some of the fastest growing. A full-blow law degree is a lengthy and costly process, however, one, which, I suspect, would be too much of a risk and undertaking for the current online colleges to consider providing.
Who knows? If the popularity of online degrees continues to grow and grow, the list of available programs is bound to grow. A word of caution, though; not all online degree providers are as good as each other. The big Universities – Phoenix, DeVry, and a few others, have gained good reputations by offering a core range of degrees which they have spent time improving. Some online universities are more unscrupulous, will promise you the world and deliver little.
Doing an online degree is all about being dedicated and realistic. If you cannot find the online degree you want, you will have to think hard about how you will gain your qualifications. If you are determined to stick with that area, you will have to look into conventional study, and hope that there will be an online program to suit your next level of career.