Students and faculty question the value of a school’s online degrees

There are more than 166 accredited Online Colleges and Online Universities within the United States today.  

Each institution has a variety of courses ranging from nursing to mechanical technology.

Even though thirty-two schools offer legit online degrees in southern, central and northern Florida, the debate still remains about the equivalence of an online degree to that of a four-year university.   

The allure is there:  Students have the luxury of obtaining a higher education, while still maintaining their daily routines and deciding for themselves what their schedules should consist of.   

“It was easier for me,” said Michelle Eckels, 28, junior magazine production student from Jacksonville. “I have two sons and I was also working full time, so it was a faster way for me to receive my degree.”   

Schools like Florida Community College at Jacksonville, Argosy University and Remington College offer a wide range of associate, bachelor and master degrees.   

Illustrated has stated that entire corporations are collaborating with online schools to offer specialized degrees and that can be done entirely online and at the pace of the student seeking the degree.   

Yet some individuals feel as though the option of receiving an online degree does not hold the same value compared to a two or four year degree, obtained by actually participating in an in-class setting.   

“I think it’s unfair, there is no visual proof that the student actually did the work for themselves,” said Lester Stevens, 21, a junior economics student from Tallahassee.

Unlike the courses taken at a regular university, online courses usually take about half the time to complete a desired degree and can also be cheaper.   

The Chronicle of Higher Education, the number one source of news, information, and jobs for college and university faculty members and administrators, has stated that some professors complain that they have no way of seeing whether their far-away students are following the lectures — or whether the students have fallen asleep at their desks.

“Online degrees [can] question the ability of the student to be able to complete the work,” said Victoria Roberts, a math instructor at Saint Pete Collegiate High School.  “If everything is submitted online, that means that the work could be submitted by another student.”

Despite the unease, universities like the University of Florida and Hampton University currently offer online degree options.  

Even historically black colleges and universities like Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University and Clark Atlanta University are expanding their online course offerings into degree programs.   

“It’s a good opportunity, but before [a student] considers getting their online degree, they should look at how self-sufficient they are,” said Eckels.       

If students are interested in obtaining an online degree, there is no fee to seek an information packet from the website of the desired institution, and most universities will accept the online degree as if it were received through a traditional college.