While the effects of stay-at-home orders and job insecurities have recently motivated more students to test the online waters, many misconceptions about online learning persist.
Even before our lives were dramatically impacted by the Coronavirus, participation in online college degree programs, including those offered by the Adult Accelerated Program at Concordia University Wisconsin, has risen dramatically in the past decade. And while the effects of stay-at-home orders and job insecurities have recently motivated more students to test the online waters, many misconceptions about online learning persist. This can leave some students apprehensive and confused about this rapidly improving means of attaining a college degree. Let’s set the record straight:
1. Are online and virtual classes the same? While the words seem similar, there are differences. Online classes at CUW are available in 8-week sessions. Students login throughout each week at the times of their choosing with assignment and discussion requirements, typically scheduled for each week. Information can be delivered through digital print, online chat forums, or recorded videos. There are no specifically assigned class times.
Virtual classes at CUW’s Adult Accelerated centers are presented on a scheduled format for a particular day and time each week utilizing video platforms such as Zoom in which instructors and classmates conduct live classes. Students tune in to a course live, via Zoom, on an assigned night of the week in the comfort of their own home. During these classes, students engage with other students and a professor as if all were in one room together. Plus, students will still receive support from their assigned home center location for assistance with books and advising. While the Concordia Mequon campus and its 7 regional centers are adhering to current health and safety guidelines, all Adult Accelerated “on- ground” classes are being conducted virtually until further notice.
2. Are online classes easier? There are no shortcuts to a college degree! While online classes are available at times convenient to the student, the rigor of classes remains the same as traditional formats. With added challenge for the need to be more self-directed, the amount of focus required remains the same. CUW instructors work effectively to keep students engaged and on task.
3. Is attendance monitored? With classes being “accelerated” into 8-week formats, regular attendance through minimum required logins and completed assignments is essential. Regular attendance is often a key factor in mastering material in any format but is vital for the online learner. The myth of being able to only do the minimum amount of work with relatively few logins is a troublesome path all students need to avoid.
4. Can students interact with instructors? While students may not have the opportunity to meet physically with an instructor, they are encouraged to interact by phone, email, online chats, and Zoom, which are the same type of interactions required for employment in the ever-changing world of work. Developing meaningful interactions through these means with instructors can be an important experience that sets online students apart.
5. Do employers value online degrees the same as traditional degrees? In general, most employers value the reputation of the school offering the degree in whatever format it is earned. In today’s modern workplace, experience in the online world may even be considered a positive by many employers. In addition, many employers who support students completing their degrees encourage the flexibility of online classes as a complement to work schedules and responsibilities. Rest assured, Concordia’s uncommon approach to education is regionally accredited by The Higher Learning Commission and maintains an outstanding reputation with local, state, and national employers!
“What you put into life is what you get out of it.” - Clint Eastwood
If you are considering an online degree with Concordia University Wisconsin or if you have already started the program, it can be helpful to remember this nugget of wisdom from Clint Eastwood:
“What you put into life is what you get out of it.”
While many others have said the same thing over the years, it is completely relevant to your college education. In whatever format you choose, you get from it what you put in. You can receive everything you need from your online classes to achieve your goals but only if you begin with an uncompromising attitude and commitment to excel. For more information about the Adult Accelerated Online programs at Concordia University Wisconsin, visit Adult Accelerated.
If this story has inspired you, why not explore how you can help further Concordia's mission through giving.