This guest post is by Lisa Fox of Degrees That Pay.
Colleges around the country (and the world, for that matter) are discovering the advantages to distance learning.
Students are increasingly enrolling in online courses from major universities and schools that cater to the online crowd alike.
Gone is the stigma that came with obtaining a degree via online or correspondence coursework. Most employers aren’t concerned with hiring graduates who pursue online education.
Thanks to a growing understanding and acceptance of technology and students earning degrees from schools known for their online programs, like the University of Phoenix.
There are big differences between online coursework and on-ground coursework to be sure, and one of the biggest and most important differences is in the cost of tuition.
Online tuition rates are rising fast – and unfortunately for students interested in the virtual classroom, they’re growing even faster than traditional programs.
Colleges like Western Kentucky University offer students the same degree (Computer Information Systems) via an on-ground option or through their online program.
The tuition rates for the online program are around 50% higher, even though the coursework is essentially the same.
So what common misconceptions are there about the pricing of online education?
Tuition for online programs is higher than out of state tuition
This really isn’t the case.
Every school that I was able to find published tuition rates for offered online coursework for less than the rate for out of state students.
One reason that universities give for charging more for online programs is that students can attend class from anywhere, and they’re recouping the cost that they’re losing for things like housing.
Online degrees cost more because professors are paid more
College professors are typically paid the same salary regardless of the type of course they teach – including night classes and off-season classes.
Online classes cost more because of the technical cost
The most commonly used online class software, Blackboard, offers the same set of tools for each course regardless of whether the instructor uses them or not.
Some instructors opt to take advantage of certain features (like accepting homework via the online portal) and don’t use others.
Though web-based courses tend to use Blackboard more heavily than other programs do, the cost is the same.
So is it worth paying the extra price?
It depends on your situation.
If you’re a full time student and you’re not working (or don’t plan on working) you may be better off just attending traditional college classes.
However, if you’re living in a different city than the school you’re attending or plan on working while completing your degree it may be worth the extra cost to obtain an online degree.
One thing many students who graduate without setting foot in a classroom seem to agree on is the quality of the education they obtained through their online program.
Virtual courses tend to include more project work and hands-on content, and studies overwhelmingly show is the most effective method for teaching adults.
And if you’re paying thousands of dollars to learn, you might as well get the most bang for your buck.
What misconceptions do you have about online education? Do you feel that there’s still a stigma attached to obtaining a degree from a virtual University like the University of Phoenix?
Lisa Fox is a writer for the college career blog Degrees That Pay. She recently helped research an article about online tuition rates in 2013.