View Full Version : Considering Online College, Any Thoughts?

11-22-2008, 04:00 AM
I've always had a passion for writing, but I'm new to writing as a career. I feel like I need more education in things like Journalism, Writing, etc. Though I have a general Associate's Degree, I keep getting pulled towards getting my Bachelor's, and maybe more down the road.

My life right now does not permit me to go to a university full-time, but I was wondering if anyone had input on Online Universities. Does anyone here have experience with them or know someone who does?

Let me add that I was home-schooled through elementary school, and took many courses online for my Associate's through the college I went to. I'm disciplined, I work well alone, and I was even on the Dean's list. So I know that it would SUIT me to learn this way, I would just like some outside views on it.

Pros? Cons? Info? Any input would be appreciated!

Clair Dickson
11-22-2008, 04:32 AM
I'm doing my entire graduate certificate program online through a local university (one I attended campus for as an undergrad!).

I've really enjoyed not having to trudge to class-- including both the 45 min drive and the walk across campus. I like being able to do the work and "attend" class when it fits my schedule, which sometimes is during the afternoon and sometimes during the middle of the night. While none of my classes have had specific meeting times, I believe some online classes do.

But it requires a bit of discipline to make sure to get the work done and handed in on time. Since I'm also juggling a bunch of other things, it's a little too easy to push the grad school work to the side since I have until the due date (usually at midnight central time, which is an hour later than midnight where I live. Bad for procrastination.)

Some online classes have forums and collaborative work-- juggling several busy schedules for a project can be interesting! The forums are usually pretty interesting since there's such a range of people in class-- which is likely to be true for any college class.

Since it's all online, I've found it even easier to get a hold of my profs. They answer their email quite readily, more so than as an undergrad. Plus, there's usually a class questions forum where other students can help out. From miles and and hours away, no less.

Some students have trouble with the technical side. My college uses WebCT, but other schools might use Blackboard or Moodle or something else. They're all pretty comparable. Some students have trouble figuring out how to upload or download things from the site. Some can't find their grades or other pieces. Some profs will be helpful on this, while others will simply chastize the student for not paying attention in the tutorial.

There is very little face time in most online classes (in my experience). If you like human interaction, you may well miss this aspect of class. I don't. But I'm also rather reclusive and prefer forums and emails to a class of people. Some classes are isolated without much interaction at all.

My biggest caution would be to make sure you enroll in a real college with an online component or some other accredited program. There are still shady fly-by-night colleges that can't offer a real diploma. I'd exercise caution in your selection.

I've rather enjoyed my online college experience. Probably as much as I enjoyed my undergrad experience-- which says a lot since I *don't* want to be going to grad school right now (have to in order to keep my teaching certificate, *grumble*.) It's not for everyone, but it's great for some.

11-22-2008, 04:51 AM
Even the ones that don't offer a real diploma can be helpful. Such as writers college, it's an online course with classes for different thing on writing, that way you can study exactly what you want to. They can't give a real diploma, however I found the class helpful.

11-22-2008, 06:01 AM
Make sure that the school is credentialed, and that the courses will transfer, if you are planning to obtain a degree.

I'd suggest journalism, or English, or another subject rather than a "creative writing" degree.

11-22-2008, 07:43 AM
Pick a school based on what others say about it, not the self promotion or the tuition.

11-22-2008, 08:41 AM
I'll echo what Lisa said. If the online university is a diploma mill, it could very well turn your resume into a joke (and a liability). Check for accreditation. Check into who teaches the classes (what are their credentials--where did they get their degrees?). If the deal seems too good to be true, I probably is. In other words, if they promise you can earn a degree in a fraction of the time needed at traditional schools, be skeptical (and thorough in your research).

11-22-2008, 08:44 AM
My friend got her MBA online, and now makes 6 figures.

With the ridiculous costs of tuition (50 grand for Middlebury College) I believe that online degrees are the way of the future.

Further, Charter College is the State online program for CT.

They do have real professors, AND, if you recall, open book tests are harder than supervised tests because they test a higher order of thinking.

I am not wary of online courses in the least. Look at the colleges who have them! Check your 10 favorite schools and, I betcha, at least 4 have online courses.

11-22-2008, 12:09 PM
Thanks everyone!

I've been doing quite a bit of research today, and it seems there aren't a bunch of colleges out there that offer true, comprehensive online courses for Writing/English. Most are geared towards health care/criminal justice, etc. There are some, however.

One that stands out to me the most is Grand Canyon University, which is located in Phoenix, and from what I've read is quite popular for teachers, etc. It's a private, campus university that offers a complete Bachelor's program online. It's pricier, and it runs on a full semester schedule.

Has anyone had experience with this U?

11-22-2008, 05:33 PM
I know some of the people who teach in the Biology program at Grand Canyon University because they received their degrees from our department at Arizona State. They were really good students and they developed into really good professors (they maintained their contacts with ASU). Unfortunately, I know nothing about your area or about their on-line offerings. It is a good is a good institution, though. I'm no longer in the Phoenix Valley, so I can't speak for what has happened with Grand Canyon in the last four years.

11-22-2008, 10:47 PM
If you have the right personality and attitude for online education (which it sounds like you do) then an online degree can be a good idea. Particularly if you think that getting that Bachelors credential might be helpful for you in the long run. If you're looking for the credential, you probably will want to look for a reputable institution to do your courses with - perhaps your alma mater or a local college that happens to offer online course option, rather than an online-only institution.

Not sure what your original degree was in, but it sounds like you might have similar experience as me. I didn't study English beyond high school, and after I finished my degree I realized I wanted to learn more about literary theory, journalism, and creative writing strategies. I'm a bit of a continuing education addict, so I've taken a whole range of courses after college - from night school courses at the local college and university, to online degree credit courses, to online courses not for credit (in english and a bunch of other subjects). Probably the most useful courses I took were an intro to journalism, a copyediting class, and a couple of writing workshops.

I don't always find that the credit courses are necessarily the best learning experience, so you need to decide whether you truly want the Bachelors or whether you want the best learning opportunity. Colleges are a great place to study literary theory, maybe take an intro course in creative or journalistic writing, and learn editing skills (eg, copyediting, grammar, etc). But if you want to study creative writing more extensively, it's harder to find good workshop courses from a credit-granting institution, other than signing up for a distance-based MFA program. I don't know of many colleges that offer more than one undergrad creative writing class at a distance. If a workshop is what you're looking for, you might be better to look somewhere like Gotham Writers Workshop, or even through AW, where you have a lot more course options, though you won't get degree credit for them.