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Descriptive Essay Example: Going to College from Home

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    It may come as no surprise to those of you who have studied at a university that attending college from home is gaining popularity. This sample descriptive essay explores on going to college remotely from home.

    • Going to college from home has become the practice of a significant percentage of students.
    • More institutions of higher education have made their degrees accessible through this program.
    • There are drawbacks and challenges that must be weighed before making an important choice.
    • Increased numbers of students taking online courses have made it more accepted and accessible.
    • The changing effects of technology on culture is incredible, and so far only in its infancy.

    Online colleges and the age of technology

    Technological advancements have made many things possible which were only a dream a few decades ago. Remotely going to college via the Internet, is growing in popularity all the time, with over seven million students taking at least one online course in 2012 (Haynie). However, anything new has its kinks to work out, and for those who are considering going to college on campus or staying home and studying remotely the best data to make this choice is self-knowledge.

    However, those who do not have a choice but must go to college remotely must cultivate the skills to accomplish this, such as time management. Most online courses have a 90% drop out rate and reflect the fact that gaining an education at home still takes an incredible amount of work (“The Trouble with Online College”). Those who succeed and thrive with remote study must have strong willpower, self-discipline, and concentration to gain an education without the pressures of professors and classrooms.

    Important to consider is the motivation for gaining an education, and the value this education has externally. Unfortunately, many people believe, “an education is only as valuable as the person reading your resume says it is. What is the value of an online degree when compared to a degree earned from hours of sitting in the classroom?” (Parker). However, to accept this would require that an individual accepts that other people’s opinions matter more than their do, and that their personal value is something which can be equated through their resume. This is not the point of gaining an education, and this is a limiting view that will need more than a degree to overcome. The fact is stigmas are changed by people changing them, and over time the general status quo is updated.

    Want to take online classes at college? Check out this overview of ACT and SAT test preparation.

    Perception of online degrees

    This has only recently begun to change the perception of online degrees. For instance:

    Only a few years ago, in 2009, a literature review by Cleveland State University found that human resource managers, executives, and other gatekeepers had negative perceptions of online degrees. Some recruiters blame the stigma on the last decade’s "diploma mills" – online, unaccredited programs known for offering a degree to anyone with a full wallet. But these days, employers rarely question the quality of online programs, says Susan Fontana, regional vice president of Manpower, a global recruiting firm. (Haynie)

    Many recruitment agents recognize it takes more than writing a resume to get a job and a degree is essential, but not the only essential element to being hirable. For instance, most of the knowledge needed to do a job well is learned through on the job experience, and not through classes about the subject. Thus, recruiters are looking for teachable, enthusiastic, and loyal employees who will put in the time and attention necessary to learn the skills of the job.

    Online courses take next step in job training

    Having a degree shows that a person is able to apply themselves over time to reach a goal, which makes them desirable to employers. One of the most frustrating aspects for employers is taking the time training a new worker, a considerable investment, only to have that worker leave in the first year. Therefore, showing that a person can stick with it is key for being hired and retained. Now, understanding that many employers have found online degrees to show an unusual degree of determination on the part of the individual, and it has turned from a stigma into a selling point (Haynie). This is all due to the quality, determination, and stamina of the trailblazers in the last decade.

    The desire of the trailblazers and the need of many students who simply could not go to a campus (either due to location, work, family, disability, rising costs of education, or financial constraints) have created the climate of acceptance online learning now has. This has led to the evolution of top-ranked schools to begin to offer online courses, degrees, and massive open online courses, known as MOOCs (Haynie). Chris Cullen, managing director at Infina DC comments:

    “In the past couple of years schools like MIT, Stanford, Duke, and Johns Hopkins have joined the online education landscape…It elevates the concept of online higher ed. Just by their participation the category is lifted” (Haynie).

    The only reason the top-ranked schools joined this movement is because of the massive desire of students, and students should never forget their power to shape markets and environments.

    Experts in the field of what people want, researchers have offered many suggestions for maximizing the choice of remote studying:

    • Although having an online bachelor’s degree isn’t a deal breaker for most of her clients, having an online degree from an unaccredited school is a sure way to get a resume discarded. Before you enroll in a program, make sure it is accredited (Haynie).
    • To avoid having an online degree discounted, he recommends enrolling in a program that has brand recognition in the relevant field (Haynie).
    • Think of your industry. If you're in an Internet/new media field, studies show that 70% of online degrees are seen as legitimate. Contrast that with marketing degrees that only hold a 29% acceptance rate (Parker).
    • Master's degrees obtained online are seen as more valuable than bachelor's degrees. This is because these "degree mills" offer many more bachelor's degrees than post graduate programs.Consider earning a bachelors and supplementing it with an online master's degree (Parker).
    • Last, online degrees are often more accepted when the person is already in the industry. If you're a teacher who earns an online masters degree in education, this is often regarded as more legitimate than somebody not in the industry. Using an online program to better your knowledge of your field while still working full time is universally seen as the sign of a driven individual (Parker).

    Need extra help writing your essay? Check out this sample paper on how to write an essay.

    Online colleges aren't for everyone

    Research is very clear that while remote studying may benefit those with prior knowledge of the industry, adult learners, and those who are highly independently motivated, it will not benefit those who do not excel in traditional education settings. When considering if remote study is the right choice, keep in mind:

    The research has shown over and over again that community college students who enroll in online courses are significantly more likely to fail or withdraw than those in traditional classes, which means that they spend hard-earned tuition dollars and get nothing in return. Worse still, low-performing students who may be just barely hanging on in traditional classes tend to fall even further behind in online courses. (“The Trouble with Online College”)

    It is clear that only those students who excel at traditional education should attempt remote study, and this should be kept in mind by parents who are helping their child make such decisions. Problems with the education system prevent many students come out of high school unprepared for college, and it may be a good choice for high schools to help prepare students for college with online courses. Research has found:

    Interestingly, the center found that student in hybrid classes-those that blend online instruction with a face-to-face component-performed as well academically as those in traditional classes. But hybrid courses are rare, and teaching professors how to manage them is costly and time-consuming. (“The Trouble with Online College”)

    The traditional education environment of a college campus offers mutual support of other students, aids, counselors, and teachers as well as the resources of the library and such (Tucker). Online courses do not allow this type of support, nor the relationship building which can so often help students mature and grow through this period.

    Benefits of remote study

    The most beneficial aspect of remote (distance) study is the ability for those who could not attend college on campus the ability to gain a degree from their home. Advocates of remote study emphasize:

    Students are able to work in their own time, often at their own pace, with all the resources they need available via the internet or as downloadable materials. There’s no geographic constraint either. Students and teachers can be separated by time zones and continents without this affecting the structure or efficiency of the program. Prospective students with ambitions of studying at prestigious universities elsewhere in the world can do so without having to move thousands of miles away from home, leave friends and family behind or give up their jobs. (Tucker)

    From a psychological perspective:

    This greater freedom “given the anytime, anywhere nature of online instruction, it allows for maximum student readiness to learn, as opposed to fixed-time-and-place classroom formats” (Lindsay).

    More and more employers value an online degree (such as an MBA) as much as a traditional one, and this trend continues to grow (Zupek; Webley). Another benefit of remote studying is the ability to sample many types of classes before committing to a major. The open online classes allow for expansive exposure and opportunity which is unprecedented in its potential.

    Concluding thoughts

    Remote studying, going to college from home is one of the many ways that technology is changing the face of culture, offering many new opportunities denied through lack of tools in the past. While resistance to change associated with what is new has had a cost to this process in the past, the validity of online study is being strengthened daily, and the mixing of online and face-to-face is further supporting this flexibility.

    Works Cited

    Haynie, Devon. “How Employers View Your Online Bachelor's Degree.” US News, 4 Mar. 2014. Retrieved from: http://www.usnews.com/education/online-education/articles/2014/02/28/what-employers-really-think-about-your-online-bachelors-degree.

    Lindsay, Tom. “The Top Eight Things You Need To Know About Online Education.” Forbes, 8 Oct. 2014. Retrieved from: http://www.forbes.com/sites/tomlindsay/2014/10/08/the-top-eight-things-you-need-to-know-about-online-education/#75352eea24a2.

    Parker, Tim. “Online Or Campus Study: What's The Better Option?” Investopedia.com, 26 Sep. 2011. Retrieved from: http://www.investopedia.com/financial-edge/0911/online-or-campus-study-whats-the-better-option.aspx.

    “The Trouble with Online College.” The New York Times, 18 Feb. 2013. Retrieved from: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/19/opinion/the-trouble-with-online-college.html.

    Tucker, Laura. “Distance Learning Degrees: A Quick Guide.” TopUniversities.com, 3 Oct. 2014. Retrieved from: http://www.topuniversities.com/student-info/distance-learning/distance-learning-degrees-quick-guide.

    Webley, Kayla. “Can an Online Degree Really Help You Get a Job?” TIME, 18 Oct. 2012. Retrieved from: http://nation.time.com/2012/10/18/can-an-online-degree-really-help-you-get-a-job/.

    Zupek, Rachel. “Employers on online education.” CNN, 29 Mar. 2010. Retrieved from: http://www.cnn.com/2010/LIVING/worklife/03/29/cb.employers.online.education/.

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