Which is better? Earning your degrees online or in a classroom?

NYS GED


I dropped out of high school my senior year in NYS. Then got my GED [with high marks, I dropped out for safety reasons, not because I couldn’t do it.]

I want to be a teacher, and since I dropped out so early in my senior year, I was never there for the college prep talks.

Is it easier to earn your degrees online or in a classroom?

And I mean all aspects, money, time, availability, etc.

I want to be an English Teacher, and I know I have to get my Bachelors and then I want to get my Masters for the best teaching opportunities.

Anyone have any ideas?

Which are better:
Shoes or boots?
Apples or oranges?
Dogs or cats?

About the same sort of question – and the answer is "it depends".

Some facts from my experience of having done both – considerably done both.

* Becoming a teacher – there are very few wholly online programs that will meet this requirement. Even those that are offered via distance learning aren’t wholly online. There are face-to-face requirements that you’ll have to meet such as classroom observations and student teaching. There is no legitimate way around those.

Further, becoming a secondary English teacher often requires a bachelor’s major in English with a teacher education program (5-year program) not simply a BA in English. Make absolutely certain you know what the requirements for a teaching certificate in your state are. A classroom based program has an advantage here because you have access to teaching professionals in your own state that have sent students through the process in your own state.

* easier: classroom is easier, hands down. Online is more convenient and often faster. The same work is required of either but the advantage online has is that of time and location. You can do your work at any time of day from any location that has internet access. It has the distinct disadvantages of ease of contact and motivation. If you need help you have to get it electronically and if you don’t stay self-motivated, you get behind and fail the class. Nobody is there each Tuesday and Thursday to remind you to do that paper by Friday.

* money: online is often costlier but not because of the sticker price. There are far more financial aid options available to in-the-seat programs than to online programs so most classroom students aren’t paying full-price. If you’re paying the whole bill yourself either way then the costs are about equal. It depends on the college – some are more expensive online for the same class, some are not. Note: some states give in-state tuition to all online students. That’s a HUGE cost savings.

* time: for my learning style the online method is more time productive. I tend to self-motivate and am able to read a textbook without having a professor interpret it. Other people are not of the same style and need the formality of a classroom in order to get work done on-track. I like being able to do my work at whatever time of the day or night I want to. Some other people won’t do it if there’s not a specific day each week assigned for the purpose.

* time to completion: online programs often run faster but this is because they tend to not have the breaks that classroom programs have. Many operate with 5 semesters per year with no breaks between semesters. Many others operate on exactly the same schedule as their classroom counterpart. A few (very few) operate on a completely open schedule – you take as little or much time on a class as it takes.

* availability (program): In teaching, for initial certification, quality classroom programs will be much easier to find than will online programs. Most online programs in education are for those already certified to teach but seeking higher levels.

* availability (faculty): There is essentially no faculty availability in an online course – you get questions answered via email or in a forum discussion. You can’t (and shouldn’t) expect online faculty to be as accessible as you’d have in a classroom. In a classroom course you can always make an appointment with a professor or visit a learning center (such as writing lab).

* Master’s: That doesn’t exactly enhance your opportunities as much as it increases your earnings. In some districts it can actually keep you from being employed because the district doesn’t want to pay master’s salary for a classroom teacher. In other districts the master’s has become the basic level requirement of all teachers. That just depends on where you teach. Either way, worry about that one when the time comes – the world of distance education changes considerably in four years.

You could always look for a program that is campus based but also teaches online. The best of both worlds as your needs change and adapt.


5 Responses to “Which is better? Earning your degrees online or in a classroom?”

  1. CanProf — December 8, 2010 @ 2:09 am

    If you possibly can, get your degree in a classroom. You will miss out on so much of what is important in a university education if you just go the on-line route. If you absolutely cannot attend classes then at least do your courses through the Distance Education (or Distance Learning) option from a legitimate public university, not some for-profit on-line university.
    References :

  2. Library Lady — December 8, 2010 @ 2:23 am

    You should be able to take some of your classes online, but probably not all of them. The cost is similar when you are taking a class face to face or online through the same college. It will be cheaper for a state sponsored institution and more expensive for private colleges. Time wise, I found that I spent more time completing assignments assigned for online classes than I ever did in a traditional class. The professors do not have the personal interaction with you and need to rely on more written assignments to properly assess your progress.

    With an education degree you will probably have several intern-classes that will require you to be in a classroom teaching a lesson and being evaluated by a professor and then meeting with other interns. Classes such as those are face to face.

    Check with universities in your area to see what is offered. Additionally your local library should have books available that detail programs available at colleges. College Board has a good site that helps with choosing a college and getting financial aid. It is at: http://www.collegeboard.com/

    Library lady
    Librarians – the Ultimate Search Engines

    Good Luck!
    Library Lady
    Librarians – the Ultimate Search Engines
    References :
    BS degree earned in traditional classes, MS degree earned online

  3. Kelly — December 8, 2010 @ 2:28 am

    I would say the classroom is ten times better.
    Price= about the same unless you go to one of those private colleges and thats ridiculously expensive!
    Time; You’ll probably be spending as much time on an online class as you will with a classroom based class. The only good part about taking the online class would be that you can do the work at 2am if you want
    Availability- There’s probably more room in a classroom based class rather than an online class.

    All in all, I’m very partial to classroom based learning simply because I find that I get more from classroom lecture than I have when taking online classes. Anyway, you’re going to have to take the classes; however, I will caution you to pick the university/college you attend carefully because that is looked at when applying for an employment position.
    References :

  4. Len J — December 8, 2010 @ 3:07 am

    Undoubtedly getting your degree in the classroom is the best route. But today’s online oferings are truly remakeble. The legitimate Universities offering online credit take it very seriously and can be as rigorous as attending classes. The difference is you have the luxury of taking the class at home with little or no class attendance.
    References :
    http://onlinecollege-degreeprograms.com

  5. CoachT — December 8, 2010 @ 3:24 am

    Which are better:
    Shoes or boots?
    Apples or oranges?
    Dogs or cats?

    About the same sort of question – and the answer is "it depends".

    Some facts from my experience of having done both – considerably done both.

    * Becoming a teacher – there are very few wholly online programs that will meet this requirement. Even those that are offered via distance learning aren’t wholly online. There are face-to-face requirements that you’ll have to meet such as classroom observations and student teaching. There is no legitimate way around those.

    Further, becoming a secondary English teacher often requires a bachelor’s major in English with a teacher education program (5-year program) not simply a BA in English. Make absolutely certain you know what the requirements for a teaching certificate in your state are. A classroom based program has an advantage here because you have access to teaching professionals in your own state that have sent students through the process in your own state.

    * easier: classroom is easier, hands down. Online is more convenient and often faster. The same work is required of either but the advantage online has is that of time and location. You can do your work at any time of day from any location that has internet access. It has the distinct disadvantages of ease of contact and motivation. If you need help you have to get it electronically and if you don’t stay self-motivated, you get behind and fail the class. Nobody is there each Tuesday and Thursday to remind you to do that paper by Friday.

    * money: online is often costlier but not because of the sticker price. There are far more financial aid options available to in-the-seat programs than to online programs so most classroom students aren’t paying full-price. If you’re paying the whole bill yourself either way then the costs are about equal. It depends on the college – some are more expensive online for the same class, some are not. Note: some states give in-state tuition to all online students. That’s a HUGE cost savings.

    * time: for my learning style the online method is more time productive. I tend to self-motivate and am able to read a textbook without having a professor interpret it. Other people are not of the same style and need the formality of a classroom in order to get work done on-track. I like being able to do my work at whatever time of the day or night I want to. Some other people won’t do it if there’s not a specific day each week assigned for the purpose.

    * time to completion: online programs often run faster but this is because they tend to not have the breaks that classroom programs have. Many operate with 5 semesters per year with no breaks between semesters. Many others operate on exactly the same schedule as their classroom counterpart. A few (very few) operate on a completely open schedule – you take as little or much time on a class as it takes.

    * availability (program): In teaching, for initial certification, quality classroom programs will be much easier to find than will online programs. Most online programs in education are for those already certified to teach but seeking higher levels.

    * availability (faculty): There is essentially no faculty availability in an online course – you get questions answered via email or in a forum discussion. You can’t (and shouldn’t) expect online faculty to be as accessible as you’d have in a classroom. In a classroom course you can always make an appointment with a professor or visit a learning center (such as writing lab).

    * Master’s: That doesn’t exactly enhance your opportunities as much as it increases your earnings. In some districts it can actually keep you from being employed because the district doesn’t want to pay master’s salary for a classroom teacher. In other districts the master’s has become the basic level requirement of all teachers. That just depends on where you teach. Either way, worry about that one when the time comes – the world of distance education changes considerably in four years.

    You could always look for a program that is campus based but also teaches online. The best of both worlds as your needs change and adapt.
    References :

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