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How Online Education Just Might Save the World

Jul 9, 2007 Jennifer Williamson, Distance Columnist | 1 Comments

Cathy Miller’s family has never had a lot of money.  “My mom was a cashier, and my dad was always in and out of jail,” she says.  “Neither of them graduated high school.”  Cathy graduated—the first in her family to do so—and not long after, she got pregnant with twins.

Cathy made around $7 per hour working as a cashier, and it wasn’t enough to support herself and her babies the way she felt they deserved.  She always wanted to work in an office, but no company would hire her for a professional position without a bachelor’s degree. 

She didn’t know how she’d manage taking care of her children, working full-time, and going to school at the same time.  “I didn’t see any way out,” she said.  “My kids were always going to be stuck in the same dangerous neighborhood where I grew up.  We couldn’t afford to make a move.”

Until she found out about online education.  Watching television while her twins slept, Cathy saw an ad for DeVry University.  “It said I could study from home and earn a bachelor’s degree,” she said.  “It sounded too good to be true.  I didn’t believe it at first.”

But when Cathy did some research, she found that online education was a possibility—one her high school guidance counselor never mentioned.  A year later, after qualifying for several grants and low-interest government loans, Cathy started studying for a bachelor’s degree in business administration at DeVry. 

Today, she works as a human resources manager—and she credits DeVry for changing her life.  But the credit lies more with online education in general. 

There are two types of adult learners.
One is looking for an advanced degree or certification to enhance career options.  These students typically have a bachelor’s degree and a decent job—and some of them are getting their degrees financed by employers. 

The second type of adult learner is returning to education after years—even decades—spent living in poverty.  Some are high school dropouts, while others never got a college degree.  For these students, poverty is a cycle: they must get a job to survive.  The job is low paying, and prevents them from having the time to pursue the education they need to get a better job.  In addition, the cost of childcare and transportation can be prohibitive.

Ways Online Education Just Might Save the World

1. Online education provides disadvantaged students with a way to break the cycle. 
They can study at home, they don’t pay for childcare or transportation, and they don’t worry about job schedules competing with class time.  Something as simple as flexible schedules can give millions of Americans the chance to educate themselves out of poverty.

2. Distance learning brings education to everyone, no matter where they are.
It has great potential to change the landscape of American education.  As it grows in acceptance, distance learning may just be the thing that saves public schools as well as adult learners. 

3. There’s no question that America’s schools are under fire, particularly in low-income neighborhoods.
These neighborhoods serve the neediest students in the most difficult conditions.  These kids need strong, experienced teachers.  But they often get beginning teachers who leave after just a few years PDF. This isn’t necessarily their fault: the pay is low in these districts, and the working conditions can be grueling.

4. Creating less opportunities for violence in schools to take place.

There’s also an epidemic of violence in schools.  While it can be found across socio-economic levels—the Columbine shootings are a prime example—low-income students are more likely to experience it on a daily basis.  The threat of violence in the worst schools can keep good students from coming to school at all.

5. Distance education can pair educators and student from across the globe.
Distance education can help by pairing kids from low-income school districts with experienced teachers in other locations, and keeping kids safe from the threat of violence in school.  If used correctly, online learning could help minimize the quality gaps between wealthy and low-income public schools.

6. Breaking down barriers.
The power of distance education reaches beyond America’s borders.  Many foreign students come to America because an American education is highly regarded at home.  But for every foreign student who makes it to America, there are thousands who can’t afford to travel.  With online education, these people have the opportunity to earn an American degree without leaving home.

7. In addition, limits on women’s education can be solved with distance learning. 
In countries such as Afghanistan, where Taliban forces often burn women’s schools and threaten female students with violence, distance education gives women the ability to study in relative safety.

Distance learning has the power to bring an education to millions of people who could not access it otherwise.  Education brings people out of poverty—and it also creates brilliant minds capable of making great new advances in all fields, from science and engineering to human rights and politics.   Today, it’s a new education method that’s growing in acceptance.  Tomorrow, it just might save the world.




Ante Lauc Over a year ago

I agree and think so from 1992, but a very few people around me, think so.

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