DISTANCE LEARNING — particularly in regards to the advancement of high definition video conferencing, has for long been advertised in strongly positive terms as the way forward in augmenting the traditional education methods. Progressively more, though, it is worth the consideration as to whether it could be an invaluable replacement for a conventional college degree programs.
Take into consideration the escalated costs of college tuition fees. Since the past 30 years, people earn college degrees only to make more money throughout their careers. Presently, however, in America, student debt issues have dramatically skyrocketed. The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau reports $1 trillion in outstanding nationwide student loan debt, while the Federal Reserve Bank of New York estimates the figure at $902 billion.
Given the escalating cost of college and university tuition fees in America, it is only proper to consider if the extra income you would earn using a college degree might actually compensate for the cost of the loans needed to cover for that degree. Perhaps, the solution to the student debt issues is in the acceptance of online education.
Certainly, online education has been in existence for decades now. However, we are not looking at this for-profit colleges and universities. We are looking at an environment that offers free learning provided by the best lecturers from around the world available. Take, for instance, The Khan Academy – a non-profit organization with an objective of providing an excellent education to anyone, anywhere in the world free. Until date, it has provided more than 300 million lessons. They Khan Academy have a YouTube channel with over 283 million views. IN comparison to this, MIT’s YouTube channel has just 52 million views, which is still, less than half of Khan’s 1,233,000 million subscribers. You get that power when you merge video and learning together.
The shortfall of online educations is the absence of accredited degrees in most cases. The reason for this shortfall is that most employers do not usually accept course credits in place of an actual degree.
Of which we believe they should. Take, for instance, almost all MIT courses are available to be studied on iTunes University. However, since no tuition fee was paid, a diploma would not be issued at the end of the course. That is just not an adequate explanation or excuse for rejecting a prospective candidate a job position in today’s business world.
After all, if you take a work-related lesson or training while on the job, the course completion certificate is truly not as significant as the one you acquire from classroom activities. (This is not so in regards to certifications obtained in specific technical specialties like the Microsoft training; nevertheless, that is a topic for a different column.)
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Moreover, truth be told, as long as you have been working in a job for more than a year, no one cares where you got your degrees or certifications from.
There is access to the best and unique materials from the world’s top scholars on the internet, where all things are available. That is not the case with a traditional college or university – and that is the advantage an online degree course or program has over a conventional college degree. If anyone is going to spend the type of money required for tuition by most colleges, they want to be sure they get the best possible lecturers available. Online education makes available to you the finest lectures on any field, and you can absorb the information passed down to you at your own pace. Also, you can do this for free as long as you have a readily available internet connectivity.
This value is specifically pertinent to elder employees. Younger people might be ready to carry a five-figure or six-figure debt load associated with their degree. However, let’s assume I’m an elderly employee aged 45 or 50 years employee, can I, in reality, have enough money to cover for a six-figure debt responsibility for a degree that would add just an increment to my earning potentials in the course of the rest of my employable life? Would I be able to recover such money back? Most likely not.
Although it has become institutionalized, the need of acquiring a degree from a conventional school seems more and more outdated. Moreover, it waves in the face of the achievements of entrepreneurial giants who rose to fame not having a college degree. For instance, Steve Jobs is a dropout from Reed College who later went on to start free Auditing classes – the same classes which if he had enrolled would cost him thousands of dollars each year. His creativity was ignited from this, and he built his education centered on the profession that interested him.
Presently, career-track executive positions of Apple centers tremendously on college students and graduates. Quoting the company’s employment page, “Apple is a place where students and college graduates thrive” —not much regarding opportunities for people without a degree but having self-motivation. Looking at this, if Steve Jobs were alive today looking for a job, he would find it tough being among the top executive ranks at Apple.
What we are trying to establish here, is if a college degree is actually worth the money spent. Not having a degree means, you might not be able to earn much in the course of your career. However, you will not be burdened with debt. Over time, it does appear to be economically impracticable to acquire that degree traditionally.
Having ease of access to excellent lecturers on the internet, in several cases being capable of having a conversation with these lecturers in real-time via a two-way video conferencing – what significance does having a degree make – as long as you are acquiring the desired knowledge or expertise?
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