Some report difficulty with the campus computer network. Others miss the face-to-face contact with professors and fellow students.
Overall, however, graduates of online teaching degree programs report very positive experiences and career advancement.
Always do your research before starting a degree program. Learn from those who have been where you are now.
Susan from Richmond, VA, earned her master's degree in education online from the University of Phoenix. She shares her experiences below.
Describe what you liked best about your online degree in education:
Online classes are perfect for a student like me. Someone who is older and who has had several years of business experience under their belt. It’s not always easy for older students to go back to a traditional classroom, especially when they are trying to hold down a full-time job and other family and personal responsibilities.
Online classes allow you to study at your own pace and the administrators at the University of Phoenix have been wonderfully supportive during this experience. The availability of electronic resources has been a godsend when it came to taking classes, preparing papers and sharing information with my fellow students and other professional colleagues. Being able to log in to my assignments on weekends or at 3:00 a.m. was very helpful in keeping up the pace. Plus, my instructors were almost instantly available to answer questions or provide direction whenever I was stuck. The variety of assignments that were given were also directly related to the classes I was taking and to “the real world.” It had been many years since I had taken a credit class, and enrolling in online classes made all the difference in the world in achieving my success.
Describe what you liked least about your online learning experience:
There weren’t very many things that I didn’t like about taking classes online. The most frustrating things had to be with the sometimes unavailability of the campus network (server outages, slow connections and things that had nothing to do with the actual courses, per se). There were times when I was in the middle of an assignment and the network would just lock up or freeze. After the first time or two this happened, I made it a point to always save my work (something I should have been doing all along). I would have liked more in-person contact with a few of my instructors. There were two individuals in particular that were extremely helpful and encouraging to me, and I would have loved to be able to sit down and share a cup of coffee and conversation with them. Unfortunately, when you’re taking online classes, there are only limited opportunities for face-to-face contact. Unless you are an independent and self-motivated individual, online classes might not be for everyone. No one is nagging you to read the chapters in the text, do your research papers or meet with study groups.
How has this university degree helped or hurt your career?
The degree has helped my confidence and my ability to be more authoritative in the classroom. I know that I can accomplish anything I set my mind to -- it was well worth the blood, sweat and tears that went into it.
I've recently relocated and am taking a short break from academia. I will be going back to the classroom in September 2009.
What would you say to others who may be thinking of earning an online degree in education?
Go for it, as long as you realize that you are the one who is ultimately responsible for your own success or failure. You will have lots of support from the faculty and staff of the institution you select (after all, they want to count you as one of their successful graduates). Don't be afraid to pursue your dreams.
Susan - Richmond, Virginia - University of Phoenix - Online Degree in Education (Secondary)