Myth Online Learning Online Education is Easier

This is a series of podcasts that discuss some of the myths of online learning.

Is Online Learning Making Education Easier?

Christianity can seem like a lot to take in, especially to a newcomer. In the By The Slice podcast, I can tackle this problem by taking key concepts and ideas from the Christian faith and Christian higher education and serve them up by the slice. Whether you’re a newcomer to the faith or a Christian looking to reconnect a little deeper, let’s work through these issues together.

Hello, and welcome to the Buy The Slice podcast. My name is John Gallo. I’m the Dean of adult and online programs at Geneva College in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, and I want to have a series of podcasts coming up in which I’m going to tackle the myths of online education. For those people who perhaps are interested or thinking about completing their degree or going back to school to get a new degree or finish an existing degree, you probably are thinking about doing it online. And, so there’s a lot of myths related to online education that I think as a savvy consumer you should be aware of. And, so I’m going to do a series of podcasts, articles in which I take each one and talk a little bit about it.

These are in no particular order in terms of magnitude or importance, but it’s basically just my experience from having been involved now in online education for quite some time and running our online program here at Geneva College. And so to get started, the first myth that I want to talk about that I think a lot of people have is that online education is easier than going to the classroom. And, so I want to immediately explain that online education should not and cannot be easier. And the reason that it’s not easier is because when people are typically doing online education now, they’re doing it at a later stage of life. And so as a result, their life right now isn’t any easier than it once was. And so to add online education on top of that can often make an incredibly busy life, even that much more busy and stressful.

Online vs. Traditional Education: Pros and Cons

So I would say that online education is not easier. It is different. It is a different form of education. And for some people, they will really thrive at this form of education, but for others, it’s actually probably a more difficult form of education than if they were taking a program in a classroom. For people who are self-starters, for people who enjoy learning, for people who have good time management skills, for people who appreciate the ability to maximize technology in the form of research, online research and online databases, and reading new articles and learning new skills, they’re going to thrive in online education. For people who procrastinate, for people who struggle with time management, for people who are looking for an easy way out, they’re going to struggle with online education.

And so here’s what I just want you to think about as you consider potentially going back to school or taking an online program. Higher education always is a sacrifice. It always demands your time and your attention. And so getting a bachelor’s degree, for example, is essentially a four-year sacrifice. It’s a sacrifice of your time, obviously your money, but also your attention and your willingness to devote to those studies, but it’s a four-year sacrifice. It’s a freshman status, sophomore-level status, junior-level status, and senior-level status. Every bachelor’s degree in the country is either between 120 to 126 credits some are even greater, but every bachelor’s degree in the United States is that same length. So you are going to sacrifice four years of your life to getting an education.

You can do that starting in four straight years, starting at age 18 after you graduate high school and you can go for four years till you’re 22. For some of us, it’s one year in our twenties, one year in our thirties, one year in our forties et cetera. But no matter how long it takes you or how split up it is, a bachelor’s degree is always going to be a four-year sacrifice. So the question is are you willing to make that sacrifice?

The challenge for many of us who are working adults, and I completed one of my master’s degrees as a working adult, actually both of my master’s degrees. My first master’s degree, I was actually married and working full-time. I didn’t have any children. My second degree, I was married working full-time and had a child. So I understand what it’s like. And so as we start to add on new roles as we move later and later in life, think about it, most college freshmen, 18-year-old freshmen these days are not married. They don’t have children. They don’t have say full-time jobs, many of them don’t. They don’t have car payments. They don’t have loans. They don’t have rent. They typically don’t have a mortgage. Maybe they’re not taking care of an elderly parent. Maybe they’re not taking care of a disabled family member or child.

Those are all roles that we play later in life. All those roles. So for the person who thinks they can do online education and it’s going to be easier, they fail to realize that their life is not easier than it once was when they were 18, and so they’re already adding something new that demands your time and attention, online education, to an already busy lifestyle. And if you do that sort of thing, you’re really going to struggle.

Now at this point, it maybe sounds like I am trying to scare you away from going online and I’m really not. All I’m trying to do is to prepare you because if you fully understand that there are some things in your life that you’re going to have to give up, that you’re going to have to carve out in order to do your classes online, then you will succeed. And the great news is it’s a temporary giving up. So basically if you can maybe do away with some activities and hobbies and other things that tend to consume your time and consume your life now, you can go back to those things in a couple of years when you finish your degree. But you got to be willing to give those up in the short term for the long term benefit of a college degree and the advantages that come with that.

Myths About Online Education – Online Colleges

Now in future podcasts, I’m going to talk through some other myths of online education. And also give some tips and ideas to hopefully help guide you through that process. And so the first thing that I want to encourage you to do to not be affected by the myth that online education is easier, is to start studying before you even begin a program. Start studying before you even begin. And what do I mean by that? Well, going back to school means going back to understanding how to read material, how to write papers, how to formulate your thoughts, and a lot of people wait until the first night of class to start to do that again. Well, that could be quite a culture shock, especially if it’s been several years since you’ve been in school doing that sort of thing.

So the best thing that you can do right now before you even begin a program, let’s say maybe you’re waiting for a program to start in the fall and it’s early summer and you have a couple of months before that program starts. Start reading, start reading articles about your discipline. Start reading about maybe the industry that you’re working in. Start to get a sense of what’s the good publications out there that you can use for resources. What’s the garbage out there that you should avoid, like blogs and other kinds of things, but start reading and learn how to read because I guarantee you in an online program you’re going to be reading and you’re going to be reading a lot. That’s a big part of online education is having you do the reading and then bring it to the classroom to show that you’ve read it and to show your knowledge of it.

So I encourage you to find some time and make some time to start to read. And then what happens is when your class starts, you can then move. You already have carved out a period of time out of your day and out of your week for reading. And so all of a sudden now the shift of reading a textbook or reading research articles or things like that won’t be as abrupt if you’ve already set the stage for doing that by reading in little bits and pieces before your classes even begins. And in the process of reading, you may already gain some knowledge about your discipline or about your field of study that perhaps you’ll be able to use in the classroom and you’ll have a leg up over other students who don’t do that sort of thing.

So thanks a lot for listening to today’s podcast, and like I said, in future podcasts, we’ll break through some of these myths, but don’t worry, we’re going to do it together, and we’re going to give you some ideas and tips so that it’s not going to be as big of a problem as you might think it is. Thanks so much for listening to By The Slice.

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