Every year, millions of young Americans elect to go to college to pursue academic study in an array of different fields. From training the next generation of lawyers, doctors and teachers through to breeding scientists, writers, artists and musicians, our universities are a hotbed of learning, creativity and youthful energy. But this positive image of universities is becoming increasingly tarnished. Where once academic merit was enough to propel every able student to the institution of their choice, today the costs of education are proving an increasing stumbling block.
Tuition fees can now comfortably run into the tens of thousands of dollars, even for non-vocational courses. The risk for many is becoming too great to study the course they would have liked. These conditions are forcing students into more commercially-orientated degree choices, which is ultimately economically inefficient. Surely it is better to have a generation that has found and pursued its calling, rather than a generation boxed in to studying courses they are less interested in, but that they think will find them a well-paying job.
For those returning to college from the world of work, these costs can make it even less feasible to study. With a mortgage and possibly a family to think about, studying just isn’t an option for many people, who would otherwise like to retrain or skill-up in this way. But there is increasingly becoming a more cost-effective alternative, in the form of online studying. Degree courses are now being made available remotely via the Internet, bringing the college classroom to the student. This is helping to reduce both tuition and living costs, while making it even more viable for ordinary people to pursue their educational dreams.
Why Studying Online Is Cheaper
Studying online, for example with Bryant & Stratton Online schools, can be vastly cheaper than studying at a university. There are numerous reasons why this is the case. By considering how both educational environments function, this is perhaps more immediately obvious. Consider a university scenario, with a group of law students. In any one class, there may be 300-500 students attending lectures and looking to fill seminar spaces. That means invariably that you need to employ at least one lecturer, and potentially several different seminar leaders for more close-quarters tuition sessions. But beyond that, the university needs to own buildings large enough to house that number of students, along with sufficient resources to pass around.
The teaching staff, arguably the most expensive ongoing cost, need to be present every week throughout the academic year to personally deliver teaching materials and lectures. In the online environment, this can be done once, and repeated year after year, week after week, the need for holding staff long-term is significantly reduced. Alternatively, universities can maximize the efficiency of the academic staff they do have through teaching online, allowing them to focus on finding the research grants that are often essential to keep universities afloat and profitable.
In the online domain, there are none of the costs associated with a physical location. That means none of the costs of premises, heating, lighting, security – only the costs of hosting a web presence, and creating the materials necessary to deliver their teaching and education.
This has a knock-on effect in terms of the price students pay to study. Rather than paying the tens of thousands it costs to go to a physical university, students can achieve their qualifications remotely for a fraction of the price. But does it matter that online studying is remote, and does this make learning in this way any less effective?
Is Studying Online Less Effective?
Studying online is different to learning in a face-to-face environment. But universities and online education providers have made great strides toward bridging the functional gap. For example, a range of media, including interactive applications, can be used to deliver course content to the same standard as a face-to-face presentation. In some circumstances, the interactivity and engagement that different media can provide can actually improve the effectiveness of studying online. Questions can be put to academic staff at set intervals through web chat facilities, and any face-to-face meetings that do need to take place can be facilitated by VOIP video calls.
In practice, there is now nothing that can be provided in a physical learning environment than cannot be replicated in the online environment. As such, online learning is being forecast to become increasingly big business in the years and decades to come, simply because the economics stack up much more favorably in terms of the costs of delivering and paying for tuition.
Employment Opportunities From Online Study
One of the biggest concerns some students have about online study is the ability to use their qualifications for employment opportunities thereafter. There is an irrational fear in some that by virtue of the education taking place online, the qualification is somehow less worthy. This is a false concern, and students should take comfort knowing that a qualification from a physical university is just as good as the same qualification from its online university. Universities and colleges are accredited to provide education through whichever means they deem appropriate. The same badge of respect that applies to one applies to the other.
Employers too are already aware of the benefits that online education can deliver, so much so that employers are now delivering their own in-house training courses in this way. In the age of rich multimedia and seamless content streaming, it would be foolish not to explore the positives that teaching in this way can bring.
University no longer has to be an expensive and disruptive phase in your life. Thanks to these innovative ways of learning, it is now possible to study from your own home. This keeps tuition costs low, while saving you on the hefty cost of living associated with moving to college. With no loss in standard or prestige from studying in the online environment, it is becoming a no brainer for those who want to study to university level, to the benefit of their future career.