Are Online Programs Typically More Streamlined Than In-Person Options?



Evaluating The Marketed Benefits Of Online Degrees

Online degrees are all different; some allow you to complete your degree quicker, or at least with more flexibility than an in-person option would. Others are basically like any other college program with the key exception that you can complete all of the work from the comfort of your dining room table.

What you’ve chosen to study will influence the conditions you experience in the program. Some fields—education, healthcare, social work—are highly regulated. The program you pick will be held to very specific standards. They won’t be very different at all from in-person programs. Other times, you may have more flexibility. In this article, we take a look at factors that influence your online learning experience.

First, You Want A Streamlined Experience. What Next?

In the paragraphs that follow, we will cover the various factors that can influence how streamlined your online college experience will be. That said, many people are probably reading this because they want to know how to streamline their degree. For example, if you want to become a nurse as quickly as possible:

  • Choose an accelerated program
    Accelerated BSN programs allow you to get your degree in 12–18 months instead of four years. Many people choose this route if they are pivoting to a different career in healthcare and don’t want to wait half a decade to do it.
  • Treat it like a full-time job
    The tricky thing about accelerated degree programs is that they don’t leave much room for other things. If you are going to do it right, you will probably need to set aside 30+ hours a week.
  • Breathe
    It’s tough, but it doesn’t last for long. You can do anything for twelve months.

Now, streamlined degree programs are usually for people who have already been to college. One of the reasons they are streamlined is because your existing credits cover a lot of the non-essentials. You don’t have to take prerequisites or generalized education requirements. That said, programs may vary in their admissions criteria. Speak with the admissions department if you aren’t sure what you are eligible for.

Factors That Make Online Degrees More Accessible

We’ve looked at how you can speed things up while seeking your degree. Short of an accelerated program, which factors will influence your experience? Let’s take a look.

1. Prerecorded Lectures

Online degrees are at their most flexible when they consist entirely, or at least primarily, of online lectures. Professors put the entire course information up at the start of the semester. There are deadlines, but you are free to mostly work at your own pace. This is ideal for people who are working or balancing domestic responsibilities with their studies. Pre-recorded lectures allow you to pause class while your kid asks you for a glass of water—or makes any of their other 60+ demands an hour.

Pre-recorded lectures do have disadvantages. Most obviously, you can’t influence the direction of the lecture. In a traditional college classroom, the day’s conversation may be shaped largely by what the students have to say. Recordings, of course, do not allow for that. This format may also make it more challenging to interact with the professor. Typically, they will be made available, through email or video communication. However, contacting them won’t be as easy as simply staying behind for a moment after class.

2. Skip The Commute

Don’t underestimate the value of cutting a commute from your routine. If the nearest university is 30 minutes away, that will save you five hours a week. Enormous for any adult, but particularly one who is trying to get a degree. With an extra hour each day, you can focus on homework, or other responsibilities that will inevitably begin to accumulate at your feet as you add this extra responsibility to your routine.

Potential downside? College campuses do have nice things. Those libraries and tech labs aren’t just nice to look at. They have valuable resources. Most online programs will allow you to access databases and other virtual information that has value. Still, it’s not the same thing as physically going on campus and exploring.

3. Work From Home

Studies have consistently shown that most people like working from home. It puts them at ease. It even boosts productivity a little bit. A happy worker/student is an effective one. This benefit is built into the online college experience but it’s also not a feature that everyone loves.

Home may be where the heart is, but it’s also where most of your distractions live. A childless, single student may work very effectively from home. If you’re a parent, you’ll lose your head counting how many times your children can call your name within a fifteen-minute span.

If you can secure a distraction-free environment at home, remote learning is awesome. If you can’t—well. Most coffee shops have free WiFi, right?

Bottom Line

The question of how online degrees stack up to in-person ones is based largely on subjective criteria. It depends, in other words, on what type of learner you are. Accelerated or “streamlined” curriculums are available both online and in-person. The flexibility aspects of remote learning can be great, but they also don’t appeal to everyone.

One thing that is more objective? Most online degrees are more affordable—sometimes considerably more affordable—than their classroom learning alternatives. Some are as little as half the price per credit hour. They also give you more options. Classroom learning options limit you only to schools within driving distance of your house. Online college lets you choose your learning institution.



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