Distance Education for Your Child - What Parents Need to Know
If your teenager is considering going to school online, you may have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, you may realize that the degree program will cost less. On the other, you may worry about some issues, such as the legitimacy of distance education and how employers will view your child’s degree after she graduates. Here are a few facts about distance education that you should know in order to help your child with this decision.
Distance education is legitimate
There’s still a belief that distance education is a scam. And it’s true that there are some illegitimate and unaccredited schools out there. But there are hundreds of legitimate online schools out there that are accredited by one of six regional accreditors that also accredit traditional public and private schools—you can be sure that online schools accredited by these organizations are expected to live up to the same high standards. In addition, some traditional schools offer degrees entirely or partially online.
Distance education is just as rigorous as traditional school
An online degree can open as many doors for your child as a traditional degree.
The social distractions aren’t as severe
Many students go a little crazy their freshman year of college. It’s their first year living without parental supervision; they’re protected from the realities of earning a living and supporting themselves, but they still have all the freedom and autonomy of adults. Some students can let that new freedom distract them from their studies. As an online student, your child is less likely to fall into that trap—and may have an easier time concentrating on school without such a serious life change to adjust to as well.
Your child will save money on tuition and other costs
In general, online education is less expensive than traditional. Not only in terms of tuition, but also in terms of room and board, meal plans, and transportation. In addition, online students can apply for financial aid through the FAFSA as other students can, and online schools give similar financial aid packages and scholarships. With an online school, your child can generally expect to have a lower tuition and less debt.
Your child will probably have to live at home
Of course, in order to see the cost benefits of an online education, you’ll probably have to continue to support your child at home through college. This may or may not be less costly than housing them on a college campus. But at least your expenses won’t go on your child’s financial record as student debt—so they’re likely to have a smaller debt load when they graduate. In addition, they may get their first taste of independence later in life than in college—but that’s not necessarily true. The flexibility of an online degree may allow them to take on a job with more responsibility than they could manage under a traditional college schedule.
Many employers see distance degrees in a positive light—but some don’t
There’s also the matter of how your child’s online degree will be received when he or she applies for jobs. The truth is that while online education is becoming more and more accepted—many top companies put their executives through online MBA programs on the company dime—some industries still look down on a distance degree. If your child wants to be a professor, a doctor, or a lawyer, she is better off attending a traditional college. But if his ambitions run more toward new media marketing, online entrepreneurship, or a high tech field, an online degree may be an advantage. In addition, if your child attends an online degree program at a traditional school, their degree may not specify that it was earned online—simply that it was earned at that college.
An online degree can open as many doors for your child as a traditional degree. But it does have its drawbacks as well. Know the facts, and you’ll be better able to talk to your child about the choices available—and help him make the right decision.
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Distance-education.org: Online College Accreditation 101
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Distance-education.org: How to Sell Your Online MBA to Prospective Employers
Distance-education.org: Seven Tips for Getting a Job With an Online Bachelor’s Degree
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