Over the last few years, online learning emerged as a popular and effective alternative to the traditional classroom. It’s flexible and more accessible, and let’s face it, technology will always be a part of how we learn and work.
But what impact does distance education have on our next-generation workers? Can it produce a better workforce? Does it better equip learners with the skills and competencies necessary to succeed in today’s rapidly changing job market?
There’s a substantial argument to be made for the work ethic of people who earn their diplomas or degrees online. More than any other style of education, distance education seems to prepare a student for the challenges of the real world.
Students can learn and progress through the curriculum at their own pace, much like they would at work, which nurtures creativity and an entrepreneurial spirit. A self-directed approach also empowers learners to take ownership of their education and cultivate the skills needed to succeed in the 21st century.
Online Education’s Reputation
Unfortunately, online education has garnered somewhat of a negative reputation in recent years. Like working from home, some people assume it’s less effective and designed for slackers. They think that being online means you’re really sitting around in your pajamas watching Netflix all day instead of getting your work done.
Other skepticism is due to the proliferation of bogus “degree mills” that falsely promise a fulfilling (and suspiciously speedy) education to their students. These degree mills have caused some to believe distance education is a last resort only suited for people without the means to go to a brick-and-mortar college. Nothing could be further from the truth.
To prove that online education constitutes a great education, I’d like to argue three points for why it is so well suited to career-minded people and better prepares them for the professional world.
1. Online Education is Career-Focused
I’ve taken programs in person and online, and maybe it’s just me, but I found the online courses to be much more focused and efficient. There wasn’t meaningless filler or time wasted on pointless activities or distractions.
Instructors often build their online courses to include what their students’ will need to know in their careers after graduation. Classes will include assignments that simulate dilemmas and challenges that students may face in this area.
For instance, a student in an online accounting program will not only receive a foundational overview of the profession in areas like tax law and bookkeeping. They’ll also take courses that prepare them for the certification tests necessary to starting a fulfilling accounting career.
Distance education courses focus as much on academic study and research as they do on the practical application of their concentrations. Once they graduate, students of online degree programs can utilize both their theoretical and practical knowledge to springboard into a new career.
2. Online Education is More Rigorous and Versatile
Students of online degree programs also benefit from a diversified curriculum that challenges and improves upon traditional teaching methods used in most universities. There, it’s common for a student to go through years of their college education among hundreds of other students in a large lecture hall, listening to a professor talk through a lecture on the day’s lesson. If the student has a problem with the lecture or the reading material, they have to consult a teaching assistant or a fellow student.
Online education challenges this one-sided method of teaching by offering interactive study courses that redefine the way students learn their material. Students might watch video lectures and participate in discussions with their classmates through email or message boards, or they might use a computer program specially designed to complement a lesson. The varied methods of online instruction help a student develop the ability to adapt to their learning environment.
With so many different methodologies, a student can boast experience in diverse work styles when they apply for jobs after graduation. They will also be comfortable working in different environments and with various colleagues.
This adaptability and versatility are highly valued by employers, who seek candidates that can bring a range of skills and perspectives to the workplace.
3. Online Education Fosters Independence and Self-Reliance
Even though online courses offer a more interactive educational experience, they also encourage independence among their students. There isn’t a teacher looking over your shoulder to monitor your progress or hold you accountable for completing your assignments. Likewise, there isn’t a study hall or class time designated for doing the work, meaning it’s up to each person to manage their time and meet deadlines.
In this way, online education draws industrious people who can meet goals and carry out their work by themselves, thriving when left alone.
Those who do well in their courses will graduate with a skill most sought after by hiring companies: self-reliance.
To hiring officials, earning a degree from an accredited online university means that you’re willing to work for your success and that you can achieve that success without relying on others.
Online Learning is a Must in Today’s Competitive Workplace
Online education is not just a fad. It’s a promising way to prepare the next generation of workers for success in the professional world.
Despite the negative stereotypes and misconceptions surrounding it, distance education is career-focused, rigorous and versatile, and fosters independence and self-reliance – which is exactly what a boss wants.
By embracing the benefits of online learning, students can develop the skills and competencies necessary to thrive in our dynamic job market. So let’s embrace this new frontier of education and unleash the potential of our future workforce!
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Amanda Kay, the founder of My Life, I Guess, provides valuable career advice and support for anyone striving to make a living and, more importantly, make a life. Whether it's navigating job searches, learning new skills, overcoming unemployment, or dealing with debt, My Life, I Guess has been a go-to resource for career guidance and financial stability since 2013. Amanda's expertise and relatable approach have been featured in trusted publications such as MSN, Credit.com, Yahoo! Finance, the Ladders and Fairygodboss.