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Online vs. Traditional Degrees? 467

Posted by Cliff
from the prestige-and-perception dept.
Justin Rainbow asks: "As a computer science student, avid internet user and full-time programmer I find it very appealing to finish my CS degree online. Finishing at least a year early and studying whenever I want are just a couple of the draws to the online campus. However, are these internet degrees even worth the paper their printed on? Is an online degree just a waste of money? Can an online degree give you just as many opportunities as a traditional university? Has anyone in the Slashdot community graduated from one of these online schools? Did it help or hurt your career? What about graduate school admissions? Does an online degree hurt your chances to get into a great graduate school?"
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Online vs. Traditional Degrees?

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  • by ITchix0r (883851) on Friday November 04, 2005 @10:33PM (#13955403)
    There are other options too. Some major universities offer courses exclusively online in addition to the traditional classroom so you may want to consider that.
    • by bcrowell (177657) on Friday November 04, 2005 @10:40PM (#13955448) Homepage
      Some major universities offer courses exclusively online in addition to the traditional classroom
      It's not just major universities, it's also community colleges. I teach at a community college, and although I haven't taught an online course, I know many people who have. Most of what I hear is pretty negative -- the students are typically taking it online because they think it'll be easier if they don't have to show up to class.

      I don't understand how they can offer an entire degree online. For instance, there's typically a ged ed requirement for a B.A. that you have to take a physical science course with a lab. How the heck are you going to do a real college-level physics lab course, for example, if you don't have any of the expensive equipment? What would a chem course be like? "OK, now mix some baking soda and vinegar, and post about what happened."

      • I agree (Score:2, Insightful)

        by elucido (870205)
        A completely online degree will not work for physics. However for computer science you don't need to go to class.

        I think it depends on the degree, but in general, when you want to get your REAL degree from graduate school you definately wont want to do it online.

        • Re:I agree (Score:5, Funny)

          by MstrFool (127346) on Friday November 04, 2005 @11:17PM (#13955635)
          But honestly officer, it's not a meth lab, I'm just working on my online chemistry class.
        • Re:I agree (Score:3, Interesting)

          by CastrTroy (595695)
          I'm not sure where you went to school, but I think that most CS degrees require that you take a few courses that aren't actually on computers. That's what the grandparent was talking about. Most universities require that you take a physical science course so that you learn about stuff other than computers.

          Also, what's good about a person who does their entire degree online. They may have never worked in a group. Learning to work in a group is an important part of your education and is very important
          • Re:I agree (Score:4, Funny)

            by Muhammar (659468) on Saturday November 05, 2005 @12:04AM (#13955844)
            "Most CS degrees require that you take a few courses that aren't actually on computers. That's what the grandparent was talking about." ...if grandparent starts talking about latin and greek courses, just bribed the nurse to get him stronger meds.
      • How the heck are you going to do a real college-level physics lab course, for example, if you don't have any of the expensive equipment? What would a chem course be like? "OK, now mix some baking soda and vinegar, and post about what happened."

        I briefly attended a community college with online and by-wire classes. I spoke with someone who had taken Chem 1314 online, and when I asked the same question I got the same answer you just assumed. They'd use household items in really basic home experimentation la
      • by freidog (706941) on Saturday November 05, 2005 @12:31AM (#13955944)
        Having taken an online univeristy class (or two) (From the University of Missouri system), i can that assesment is probably accurate of most of the students in our class.
        We had 2, 1 hour online lectures a week - two or three students out of about 20 in the class attended with any regularity, the professor also commented many didn't even take the time to listen to the playbacks later (they were avialible for download or listening through basically a browser plugin).
        A signifigant part of the final grade was from particiaption, just listening to the lectures and commenting in an online discussion group - the class average for those 'easy money' points was about 60%.

        That's not to say online classes are better or worse than on campus classes, but the percpetion from the students, and I gather your experiance would agree with that, that these aren't 'real' classes. I'd be concerned that an online degree might be seen by employers in the same light, at least an online university might be. Online coursework from 'established' universities might be more accpeted.
    • by Lateralus462 (928640) on Friday November 04, 2005 @11:53PM (#13955794)
      Well, I am a computer science student at RIT (Rochester Institute of Technology) and there is a robust computer science department along with software engineering and the likes. I can obviously attest to the challenge and effort needed to obtain my degree, and I just don't see how you could possibly do that all online. Like someone mentioned a lab science class, obviously it would not be the same online. Theres a lot more to a good degree than reading the right books. At RIT we go on a full year of co-op. Thats paid work experience with placement among lots of companies. Just yesterday reps from IBM were standing in the lobby of the Comp Sci building looking for co-op students. I woulld have looked into it but I'm not ready to go just yet. Anyway, I just don't see the quality matching a traditional university degree.
    • by macrom (537566) <macrom75@hotmail.com> on Saturday November 05, 2005 @12:02AM (#13955838) Homepage
      I have looked at 3 online degree programs in recent years: Florida State [fsu.edu], University of Hawaii [hawaii.edu], and New Jersey Institute of Technology [njit.edu]. The downsides to these programs :

      1. FSU had a requirement that you MUST take Florida government classes. At the time I inquired, they would not substitute these classes for something else (like government classes from your own state).

      2. U Hawaii required that you take final exams on site. If you can afford 2 trips a year to Hawaii, then this is a great option. Oh damn, you MUST go to Hawaii twice a year! What a HORRIBLE degree plan!

      3. NJIT seems to have pulled back what they now offer for someone seeking a CS degree. In addition, NJIT had the highest tuition of these 3 programs.

      Ultimately, here is my take. A degree is a degree. Obviously the more recognized the name the better, but don't fret over that too much. Try to avoid programs that give "life credit" for working in a real job, or offer things like "Bachelor's Degree in Computer Studies". These things look funky on a resume, especially if you apply at a prestigious company or university. You may also look at local schools in your area if you live some place with choice. Here in Dallas, The University of Texas at Dallas offers many of their CS classes at night, and if you take your basics at night at a local junior college you can get through while still working. This is obviously a tough path, and one that will take many years of hard work.

      Good luck to you!
  • by joelparker (586428) <joel@school.net> on Friday November 04, 2005 @10:35PM (#13955416) Homepage
    A traditional degree is better for grad school because in a traditional school you are more likely to have opportunites for interaction with professors who can recommend you.
    • Not only this (Score:5, Insightful)

      by elucido (870205) on Friday November 04, 2005 @10:55PM (#13955518)
      But if you don't interact with professors not only will you not have to worry about grad school, how are you going to network for a job once you go to business school or law school?

      Imagine getting a business or law degree online and trying to become a judge or work for a fortune 500 company.
  • Go for it! (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Most traditional universities now offer online degrees. Thus you don't have to go to a "Internet College". Even Dartmouth, Harvard and Berkeley offer them.
  • is that traditional degrees are actually worth the paper they're printed on.
    • Obviously you didn't go to any university at all, or you wouldn't be ending your sentences with prepositions.
      • is that traditional degrees are actually worth the paper they're printed on, asshole!

        How's that?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 04, 2005 @10:36PM (#13955421)
    However, are these internet degrees even worth the paper their printed on?

    If you can't find the error in that sentence, you shouldn't be allowed to get an online degree!
    • Re:English first! (Score:2, Insightful)

      by presidentbeef (779674)
      Actually, errors.
      Finding them is an exercise left to the reader.

      (Sorry to perpetuate this...)
      • "This is the kind of arrant pedantry up with which I will not put." - Erroneously attributed to Sir Winston Churchill (probably another anonymous contributor to the same publication, AFAIK, identity unknown.)

        "Where is the library at?"
        "At Dartmouth, we don't end a sentence with a preposition."
        "Oh, okay. Where is the library at, asshole?" - Anyone know the attribution to this joke?

        Their for they're is wrong.
  • Yes, it matters. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 04, 2005 @10:36PM (#13955422)
    As a medium sized business owner (150+ employees) I can say with certainty that brick and mortar schools matter. Nothing can replace face to face experience and interaction over the course of 3 to 5 years. On the other hand, if you are over 25, just work on your resume. If you've made it this far without the degree, it's not going to help you climb the wage ladder.
    • by toddbu (748790) on Friday November 04, 2005 @10:45PM (#13955480)
      On the other hand, if you are over 25, just work on your resume. If you've made it this far without the degree, it's not going to help you climb the wage ladder.

      This is really, really bad advice. Even though I've learned most of what I know through practical experience, my 4 years of college has really helped me. Too many programmers don't understand foundational concepts, and subsequently they lack the tools to adequately understand how to solve a problem. Picking some arbitrary age limit and saying that you shouldn't do any formal learning after that time is just plain stupid. Shame on you for even making that suggestion.

      • by sexyrexy (793497) on Friday November 04, 2005 @10:51PM (#13955504)
        I agree with your position, but not your reasoning. I find that good programmers are good programmers, regardless of whether they have a degree or not. I've never, in my career, seen a developer who understands fundamentals because of college, and I've never seen one who lacks skills because he or she didn't go to college.

        However, a degree will generally add at least 10 g's to your salary, when you are compared to someone with comparable skill without a degree. College is the way to go. Doesn't matter if it is online or not - a degree is just an extra foot in the door. Talent and people skills will take you the rest of the way from there.
        • I've seen it both ways, but the BIG difference is that with the knowledge you get in college you can learn new things quicker, are broader in your understanding and are productive in different contexts and likely in different programming langauges and domains . Just writing code is NOT all there is to being a "good programmer",it's understanding why you do things and what impact they will have. Just learning Java from a book isn't going to give you that. However, once you have 5-7 yrs practical experience t
        • by swillden (191260) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Friday November 04, 2005 @11:31PM (#13955687) Homepage Journal

          I've never seen one who lacks skills because he or she didn't go to college.

          I have. Several. I've known some very bright programmers who could cut code just fine, but whose lack of formal education really limited the nature of the problems they could solve. There are a bunch of classes you get in a decent CS curriculum that seem very pointless and abstract -- things like Theory of Computation, Compiler Design, Algorithms and Data Structures -- but not having that foundational knowledge really hurts. There's also lots of benefit to learning a significant amount of mathematics (especially discrete math, but all of it is good).

          Of course, you don't actually *need* to go to college, on-line or in meatspace, in order to learn that stuff. You can just pick up a book and do it yourself. In practice, though, it's much easier to learn it in college, and most people who don't go to college will never learn it on their own.

        • by AHumbleOpinion (546848) on Saturday November 05, 2005 @12:27AM (#13955923) Homepage
          I've never, in my career, seen a developer who understands fundamentals because of college, and I've never seen one who lacks skills because he or she didn't go to college.

          I side with the other responses strongly disagreeing with this. I too have seen many gifted programmers who had gaping holes in their knowledge because they did not study various uninteresting or seemingly unimportant topics. They were great at what they did study but they were not well rounded, more like a technician in some ways rather than engineers. In my own personal work I have occasionally had answers to technical programs come from completely unexpected sources, from topics I would never had the forsight to have studied on my own initiative.

          Your statement is only true for the extremely minute portion of the population that will read *all* the textbooks on their own initiative. It does a great disservice to otherwise intelligent programmers who would benefit from formal training. For example most aspiring game programmers out there might be under the illusion that they just need to read some OpenGL books, maybe some graphics and AI gems, and they are ready. They would never image that the answer to some problem they will run into comes from some boring databases book written in the 80s, or from a microeconomics text, or a psychology class, etc. I emphasized non-computer science but I want to be clear that the "gaping holes" I referred to above was in computer science. The material you cover in a formal degree program is valuable and almost no one has the self discipline to study *all* that material on their own and need the prodding of professors. I did. A friend did not, and he is the rare exception who did not, the rest delude themselves.
      • Not everyone in tech is a programmer.
      • Re:Yes, it matters. (Score:2, Interesting)

        by seac0rd (557659)
        Working in government Research and Development has given me some insight into this subject. Most government labs are a mix of grads from MIT, Georgia Tech, etc and prior service veterans, mostly from the enlisted grades.

        Its common practice in the enlisted grades of the US Defense Department to go to school via online programs, "military programs" and distance learning because it works better with over seas deployments. However, if you take 100 average DoD lab employees, put them in a room, and interview the
    • As an employer, i would say this is truely awful advice. I like staff with the enthusiasm, determination and interest to extend themselves, especially if it is an area that will advance my company. Even if its not directly related, it still attracts my attention.

      Never believe your education has ever finished.
  • If so, it should not matter for your undergrad degree. As for getting into a good grad school, I have no idea, but again, if it's accredited, it should be looked at in the same light.
  • They can be the same (Score:5, Interesting)

    by solarmist (313127) * <.moc.liamg. .ta. .noslo.auhsoj.> on Friday November 04, 2005 @10:36PM (#13955425)
    It depends. Right now I'm enrolled in University of Illinois - Springfield's (UIS) online computer science degree and they don't make any mention that it was online when you graduate. So, it is the same degree that the students on campus get, but UIS isn't exactly in the top of the computer science programs. I feel satisfied with the degree though. Also, University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign offers a professional masters degree in computer science (also no mention when you get your degree that it was online) and I believe that would help you quite a bit because UIUC is a very highly ranked computer science program. So, I would say as long as you take it from a school that has a traditional campus and degree in computer science. It'll be pretty much equivilent to their on campus degree. But I wouldn't touch University of Pheonix or similar "Universities" with a ten foot pole. That's as close to buying your degree as you can get and your school still being accredited.
    • by Helios1182 (629010) on Friday November 04, 2005 @10:43PM (#13955467)
      I'm in the PhD program at UI - Chicago (not online), and I am a TA for a couple online courses. There is no mention that the courses (for a professional Masters in Engineering) are online at the end of the degree.
    • ... or, to appease the jackbooted grammar thugs, you only get that for which you pay.

      Universities are in the business of selling degrees. They do whatever they can to make the value of a degree in general and their degree in particular seem as high as possible.

      One of the greatest benefits of a university degree is the network of contacts one can develop. Graduate students especially have an expectation of a relationship with one or more professors, but also with other graduate students. Those relationshi
      • Many people I know who've completed post-grad degrees need those relationships because all they've done so far in life is go to school. They need a network and recommendations.

        If you're already in the work force in your field and are looking to expand your knowledge and skills, these personal contacts are not as essential. You're already employed, you already know people and have a social infrastructure. Online courses make sense then as all you really need out of them are the knowledge in your noggin and
  • It depends (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ForumTroll (900233) on Friday November 04, 2005 @10:38PM (#13955437)
    It completely depends on where you get your online degree. Many universities offer online degree programs that are fully recognized at accredited universities. This is something that you have to look for and be aware of. I suggest contacting other universities and inquiring whether they recognize degrees from the online university you are considering, and also make sure that credits from the online university are transferable to other universities.

    Also, you have to make sure that you're able to stay motivated working in an environment of your choice. Like many telework situations, some people find that they're not productive at home due to too many distractions. I know a few people who are incredibly smart that have received online degrees and it really depends a lot on how motivated you are and how much you want to get out of it. They also recommending asking as many questions as possible to make sure you get the most out of your education experience.
  • by tomstdenis (446163) <tomstdenis@REDHATgmail.com minus distro> on Friday November 04, 2005 @10:38PM (#13955440) Homepage
    A good reason to attend school in meatspace is that you can interact with others, form groups, work on tasks.

    Just because you have a degree doesn't mean you'll be successful in what you are doing. You have to actually do something people can use [e.g. want, has a value, etc] to make money and/or fame. If you're lucky enough to be self-motivated to do your own work/projects then online could be ok. However, most are not and required a good kick in the ass to get going.

    Another good reason for attending real school is you get to meet new peeps, socialize, do something other than being alone at home.

    I can see the value of an online degree but only in the most limited of situations, e.g. you're already working and you want formalization or you live in the sticks and can't afford to move out, etc.

    Tom
    • They require quite a bit of group work in my program online. And yes I agree that traditional is better. I have no choice. I'm working full time in Korea and that really limits my options for getting my degree otherwise.
    • Yeah, I agree with this. I got a lot of interaction with other students and my professors in college that I don't think I would have had online. I just watched my girl friend do an online masters that seemed like a good enough course, but the kind of interaction she was getting in email and using the courseware stuff wasn't the same as the kind of interaction I got going brick and mortar.

      A big part of my college time was lots of access to my professors and kicking about their offices working on projects and
  • by kartan (906030) on Friday November 04, 2005 @10:39PM (#13955444)
    However, are these internet degrees even worth the paper their printed on?

    Looks like the brick-and-mortar ones aren't worth much either.
  • by RLiegh (247921) * on Friday November 04, 2005 @10:40PM (#13955447) Homepage Journal
    If you're looking at any field outside of IT, online courses are really lacking because you have zero interaction with other students, and that's a good part of where your experience with work politics, and where your future contacts will come from.
    • The idea that you won't interact with other students is completely false. I have two advanced degrees, an M.S. in mathematics from the University of Florida earned at the school and an MBA from Baker College earned through their online program. I had just as much interaction with my fellow students in both programs.

      The only criteria that really matters in terms of acceptance (other than general quality of the program which you have to consider with a brick-and-mortar program also) is whether or not the

  • Wow (Score:3, Funny)

    by kramthegram (918152) on Friday November 04, 2005 @10:40PM (#13955453)
    I went four years for my degree at a private school at a cost of 21 grand a year. Thats 84 grand in total. You're telling me that paper they printed the degree on it work 84k, I'm heading to ebay right now!
  • Real School (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Friday November 04, 2005 @10:41PM (#13955460) Homepage
    There is nothing wrong with an online degree that I can think of, as long as you get it from a real school. DeVry, Keller Graduate, University of Phoenix Online, and many state/community colleges offer online degrees in various subjects.

    As long as it is backed by a real school, I see no problem at all.

    • You do NOT want a "degree" from somewhere like DeVry, if you can help it. I have a friend who graduated from there this past spring (he got a degree in "Electrical Engineering Technology" or something like that), and where do you think he's working now?

      Fry's Electronics.

      Sadly, the whole "get your degree in 3 years, and cheap!" thing doesn't seem to impress the people hiring for Real Jobs, even when it comes from a brick-and-mortar school. I bet they'd be even more dubious about an online one.

      Now, on the o
      • I can't believe that people think of DeVry as a real school. From what I've seen in television ads (what real school advertises on television?) it seems they are just looking to make money off people who want an education fast. You can't fast track in school, well, you can, but you have to work really hard. Going to a school that promises the same degree as a real school in 1/2 the class time means that they aren't really giving you the same level of education.
  • Where do you live? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Psionicist (561330) on Friday November 04, 2005 @10:42PM (#13955464)

    It probably depends on where you live. I did three years of high school completely online in Sweden, only visited the actual school building once. My grades I got from that school are no different than my brothers grades he got in a "regular school" (only mine are higher, but that's because I didn't drink so much beer, anyhow). I know there are several, real, universities here where you can read different courses and get lesser degrees. So it's certainly possible. If you are talking about the kind of "university" you get spam from ("get a prestigious degree from uni. of liverpool" or something) then you should of course stay away.

  • Recent grad here (Score:4, Insightful)

    by 1000101 (584896) on Friday November 04, 2005 @10:43PM (#13955470)
    I graduated with a CS degree in August 2004. Like most of my peers, I used the internet heavily for research, problem solving, and certification training. Perhaps the biggest problem with online degrees is the level of understanding you will receive. Computer Science is not an easy subject. The math alone is the reason many people drop out of the school. You will never get the same education from an online degree as you would from a traditional university. Yes, you can email or live chat with a 'professor', but that is no substitute for real, in-person communication during class time. Also, the in-class discussions are an integral part of understanding the more complex subjects. If you are genuinely concerned about what you will get out of the degree and not just the piece of paper, I would strongly consider not getting the online degree. Whatever your decision is, good luck in your future.
  • Does an online degree hurt your chances to get into a great graduate school?"

    Grad school admission staffs are also wondering whether people who graduated with an online degree is worth what is printed on the paper. Many professors are already skeptical about how an applicant's transcript reflects his/her true academic performance, with a traditional degree. An online degree has very little precedence, so they would only be even more skeptical. You not only have to have good grades, you also need to stand ou
  • They can be (Score:5, Informative)

    by restive (542491) on Friday November 04, 2005 @10:44PM (#13955473)
    Depending on what kind of degree you want to pursue, an online degree definitely can be equivalent to a "traditional" degree. I have a B.S. from Rochester Institute of Technology, and completed my entirely at night through their Distance Learning [rit.edu] program while I was working for a software company full-time. Because it's an accredited school and my degree was "work related," I was even able to use tuition reimbursement from work to pay for it.

    When I decided to go to law school (2nd tier), the fact that I had earned my distance learning degree wasn't even mentioned (yes, I was accepted). In my case, there is no difference between my degree and the same degree earned on campus.

    I'm certain there will be a lot of naysayers who are convinced that all online degrees are worthless, but it's not true. It depends on the school (accredited, etc.) and the type of degree you're looking for. Even if you're just looking for a way to get some extra credits, most schools will let you take DL courses from an accredited school and transfer them into your program.

    Do your research and you'll find there are a lot of legitimate options out there. John Bear has written some good books about where to get quality distance learning education.
    • Re:They can be (Score:3, Interesting)

      I think it definitely depends on two things: 1) Is the school a "real" school? and 2) why is the student interested in doing an online school? In your case, you went to a good school and did it online because you had a job. I don't think that's a hard sell to an admissions committee or potential employer.

      If someone's talking about U Phoenix or the like, I don't care if it's online or not, it's nearly worthless.

      With any online degree program, the one thing that will always be missing is the person-to-perso

  • petrie dish (Score:2, Funny)

    by john_o_jerk (840264)
    give it a try and let us know how your career turns out!
  • Any degree is really just a piece of paper. Yes, you could have gotten a great education at your school but people don't know that unless they see you work. Most people don't have the time nor resources to watch a candidate over a period of time. Instead they depend on the reputation of the school/organization who issued the degree, interviews, essays, etc. (until you get some real experience under your belt and on your resume). So the strength of the degree depends more or less on the credibility of t
    • As a side note, I personally enjoyed BEING in college and the whole atmosphere. I miss it sometimes now that I'm in the professional world. There was always this dreamy, hopeful feeling to it. It's where ideas are traded and inspirations are found. I miss academia and the pure pursue of knowledge/ideas.

      I'm one year into my first job out of college
      You could always go back, get a Ph.D and become a prof, you know.
  • Open University (Score:4, Interesting)

    by verbnoun (920657) on Friday November 04, 2005 @10:55PM (#13955521)
    The Open University [open.ac.uk] in the UK could be considered to do "online degrees" although they call it "distance learning". According to TQI [tqi.ac.uk], an organistation that gives access to official information about the quality of Higher Education, the OU is rated very highly for all subjects.
  • If the school is accredited, then there should be no issues. The college I work for (in the online education area no less) is accredited by SACS [sacs.org]. And SACS states (and enforces and checks for) equivalency between classes - same outcome, same expectations of students, etc. Not only that, but section numbers aren't on transcripts or degrees - so the only way for someone to know if classes were taken online would be for them to look at your registration/schedule record (drops/adds at the beginning of the ter
  • by Monoman (8745) on Friday November 04, 2005 @11:01PM (#13955549) Homepage
    Some classes just do not do well online.

    * Classes meant for you to present something in front of an audience. (Speech)
    * Classes meant for the students to learn to work on a group project like they would in the workplace.
    * Classes designed for face to face interaction of the students.

    Otherwise it is mostly up to the student. Some people do fine taking classes online. Some people do not.

  • by Proudrooster (580120) on Friday November 04, 2005 @11:04PM (#13955566) Homepage
    Dude, if I may call you dude. Online schools like the University of Phoenix are great if you already have a great career and are just going after a piece of paper to look good to get that next promotion. However, life is more than have a framed piece of paper hanging on the wall. Life is about socializing, making friends, and sharing ideas. Consider that you may meet someone in a traditional college with whom you will start the next Google. Yes, that's right. The founders of Google attended Stanford together, however I am not sure if they ever posted a story on Slashdot.

    You might make friends in different fields that open doors which you never considered. You never know who you will meet and what opportunities will arise from these chance meetings. Additionally, social networking is one of the best ways to find employment. You might do an internship and get hired or find other talented people like yourself and start a company (read the history of Hotmail).

    Online learning tends to be very isolated and there is very little chance of meeting interesting people and connecting with them. Online courses are likely filled with people chasing a piece of paper and missing out on a far richer experience. Online learning also decreases the number of females you will meet that aren't from India or China. Please note, I am not biased against Indian or Chineese women, they just statistcally tend to comprise the majority of female computer science graduates. Going to a brick-n-mortar college will land you in a liberal arts class where you might find a date or even future wife. Remember, sometimes the journey is it's own reward :)

    Maybe Slashdot could do a longitudal study of your education and career path choices to find out the answer to online vs. traditional schools and lifetime opportunities at the 4-year and 8-year mark. I've been to both type of universities and definately prefer the face-to-face interaction at a traditional school and have found it to be a much richer experience.
    • by ZagNuts (789429) on Friday November 04, 2005 @11:39PM (#13955730) Journal
      Additionally, social networking is one of the best ways to find employment.

      I fully agree with the parent and would like to point out that another thing to keep in mind is that on campus recruiting provides huge oppurtunities for a career. Companies come to career fairs at a campus because they respect the school's program. It's much easier to get an interview with these companies because you get the chance to talk to their recruiters one on one no matter what your resume looks like. If you do decide to get an online degree at least make sure that you are able to attend these events on the college's campus.

      You also don't want to miss on out on your chance to meet with professors as other posts have pointed out. Every professor that I've ever had has had specific hours during the week for students to stop by their office just to talk. Getting to know people who are already well established in the field in a personal way can give you a huge advantage as a professional. While I'm sure there are chances to communicate with professors in online curriculums I have a hard time believing that you could achieve quite as personal of a relationship. Knowing a professor or two is crucial to having a good grad school application as well.

      If you do decide to go with an online degree it is very important to put a lot of effort into gaining the same social experiences you would with an on campus degree.
  • Depends... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by taoboy (118003)
    I used to teach university CS, served as department chair for a year, and have taught 1 (One) online class (graduate, computer security).

    The experience left me wanting the interaction that comes in a classroom setting. Discussion posts were stilted, with some simply filling the requirement using regurgitation of the text to get the minimum grade. I am a strong advocate of web-based technology, but teaching a class using it exclusively is a hollow experience to me. I had much better experiences using the
  • by IntelliTubbie (29947) on Friday November 04, 2005 @11:07PM (#13955587)
    . However, are these internet degrees even worth the paper their printed on?

    Yeah, probably about that much.

    Cheers,
    IT
  • The school I go to has been really pushing online classes lately. I was having a discussion with one of my professors about this and I found his views on it really interesting. He said that even though a skilled and dedicated instructor can use the tools available to make a really good online class, and that in general he thought that online classes got through "more" course material, that online classes were largely useless when it came to finding a Job. His explanation was that there are a lot of peopl
  • My recommendation (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SocialEngineer (673690) <invertedpanda@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Friday November 04, 2005 @11:25PM (#13955658) Homepage
    I'd say do your major classes in the classroom, but pursue your gen eds elsewhere. I decided to take some online classes over the summer to speed things up, and man, am I thankful. First off, the online model of classes is usually MUCH better, especially for summer courses. Second, it is great to be able to do it in your own time. As for taking your CS courses online.. I'd suggest you drop that idea. You should be learning more than the concepts in a classroom - you should also be spending time working with others in the class, especially on programming projects. You can't always be a loner, and the classroom experience shows that you might actually be able to work with a team.
  • by catwh0re (540371) on Friday November 04, 2005 @11:29PM (#13955678)
    A qualification means that you have the ability to do the tasks that the qualification outlines. It is however prone to people who have the ability to cram-study or cheat. Unlike the real world work environment where incompetence becomes clear quickly.(How many people at your work do you consider incompetant?)

    If you're in the position where you need to learn something, and it's not all about the piece of paper, then online learning can be a great help at fast tracking this in an inexpensive way.

    However if you need a piece of paper that says MIT on it so you can negotiate a 20K payrise, then your online-only university isn't going to be much of a help.

    It's not the nature of being taught by correspondence, but rather the esteem of the university which issues the certification. Online courses available from certain ivy-league universities are still considered legitimate, because the issuer is considered with high regard.

    The reason why people have negative feelings to online courses is because there is an over abundance of fake degrees available online, which use catch phrases such as "Earn a degree, based on your existing life experience", and "Qualifications in XX hours".

  • I'm in my early thirties. I do most of my work online or with computers, but to read long stuff I still need to print it out. But hey, give me a break, I didn't even grow up with a remote control. Yet the generations after me WILL learn online MORE easily than in a traditional classroom setting. There's so many tech bonuses to an online classroom that blow away 1-on-1 instruction. So I see online education gaining ground over traditional brick-and-mortar universities, not merely because of the current retai
  • First a disclaimer I am a professor who teaches at a bricks and mortar university. The value of an online degree depends hugely on what you want out of the degree and on your own background. If you are highly motivated and have a very particular aim in mind then go for it (well modulo making sure it is not a rip-off program). But dont forget if you were that highly motivated you could just go get some books and read up on it yourself. If you have poor communication skills and anything less than an iron wil
  • Online degrees. (Score:2, Informative)

    by geekwife (565260)
    Okay. I'm biased. Not only am I currently enrolled in an online Masters program (In Education), I work for a university that has a considerable online presence.

    No, I'm not telling you which one.

    That being said, yes, an online degree is worth it. You have the opportunity to have constant contact with your classmates and your teacher throughout the program, instead of waiting days to see them (especially if you commute to campus). The online curriculum has to be just as good, if not better, then wh
  • Online?? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Tmack (593755) on Friday November 04, 2005 @11:37PM (#13955715) Homepage Journal
    I prefer degrees over radians, but whats this about Online degrees? It some newfangled way to orient the protractor??

    Tm

  • I'm currently enrolled in an online MBA program, a couple of my observations:

    I received my undergrad physically present at a liberal arts college. After freshman year, I think you get a lot more valuable stuff out of college than just the knowledge you gain in class (things like social skills, teamwork, and communication).

    However if you've been working as a knowledge worker out in the world I think you get enough experience/practice with these in your work, and will not gain the additional benefits of gett
  • I can't seem to get an employer even interested in a computer degree from Carnegie Mellon. Everyone tells me that all they do is line up the tech things you did. So you could be a 20 year vet of programming, but if you don't got .com, .net, visual basic, and Excell on your resume, then they don't want to hire.
  • Here is the most critical part: the US is divided into certain regions. Within each of these regions there is a main certification body, mostly some kind of association of schools. What you want is to make sure that whatever school you pick has passed the proper certification process by this main body. Cheesy schools will make these up to try to sound legit.

    Read Dr. Bear's guide to distance learning (ISBN 1-58008-202-5). This man is the expert in figuring out diploma mills v. legitimate schools.

    Consider a p
  • Well, read this (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sam_handelman (519767) <.skh2003. .at. .columbia.edu.> on Friday November 04, 2005 @11:55PM (#13955804) Homepage Journal
    In general, the quality of the education suffers considerably.

    Furthermore, as others have pointed out, lack of contact with professors essentially kills your chance of getting into graduate school.

    If you're just interested in it as a certificate, I again second the advice of others, you should get it from a real university's online program.

    My mother got a Master of Science Education from the Univ. of Montana, which had a big online component (about half of the courses). BUT, it was not *entirely* online, there were significant summer courses. Nonetheless, she liked the program greatly overall.

    Read this [firstmonday.org] before you enroll, though. David noble's anti-technology stance is a little extreme for my taste, but he makes excellent points regarding the weakness (and distasteful history) of correspondence-based education. It's out-dated
  • by daVinci1980 (73174) on Saturday November 05, 2005 @02:27AM (#13956317) Homepage
    It's the greatest time of your life. Never again will you have leisure time to pursue whatever you want, whenever you want.

    Not only that, but you're on your own, you're surrounded by other people on their own.

    Seriously, for any of a thousand reasons, don't shortcut college.

    Life's a journey, not a destination. Stop running. [yahoo.com] (Obligatory Demotivator [despair.com]
  • by Mycroft_514 (701676) on Saturday November 05, 2005 @10:25AM (#13957300) Journal
    http://www.ossc.state.or.us/oda/unaccredited.html [state.or.us]

    This is a website maintained by the University of Oregon that details all the SCAM online Universities for you. So, this is important to check out first, before you spend any money online.

    Also, having checked them out, I consider University of Phoenix a lousy University, as their teaching methods are suspect for technical degrees. I found that out when I interviewed as a teacher with them.

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