Myth #3: Online Education Is Easy
A regionally accredited institution cannot offer an 'easy track' for online students if they intend to remain regionally accredited.
Course content and expectations of students in online programs should meet or exceed the standards set for students attending brick-and-mortar classrooms. The technological nature of online programs may also require online students to cultivate personal management skills that brick-and-mortar students may lack.
The demand for personal management skills is magnified in online graduate programs where grad students are expected not only to be more independent than undergrads but also to develop into subject matter experts in their field of study.
Myth #4: Instructors Are Pushovers
Online instructors typically possess at least a master's degree in the field in which they teach. I've encountered instructors who may hold multiple master’s (across related fields) or doctoral degrees. Doctoral-degreed instructors may be specialists (attorneys holding a JD for example) or they are PhDs who teach the advanced courses in the program class sequence. Instructors are experts training future experts and it is in their interest to be fair graders—but they will not be easy graders.
Myth #5: Online Education Is a Parental Safety Net
(a.k.a., Dear Instructor, Johnny's Mom Does Not Approve of Your Grading)
Yes, you read that right. Parental browbeating of instructors to reconsider/change student grades is not unusual at the undergrad level. Online and brick-and-mortar college instructors I know report the phenomenon with some frequency and it is hardly new. I personally observed the following example in an online bachelor’s program that I attended (and graduated from with Honors).
The context appeared to have been a student complaining to Mom about a low paper grade. The phenomenon was made public when Mom used the in-class messaging system to message her displeasure to the entire class (mistakenly, I presume) rather than sending a private message to the instructor. One student responded publicly with a remarkably polite if scathing reply.
Online education is an alternate path toward higher education for those willing to invest time, effort, and money to learn. Serious introspection, assessment of personal interests, and research of regionally accredited online education options are all important factors of success. Online education can also help address remedial education needs but it should not be regarded as a parental safety net.
Higher education requires personal effort and commitment whatever the form.
Best of luck in your future studies!
About the Author
Scott Hibbard is a second-year Utica College ECM Grad Student (ABT). He is scheduled to submit his ECM thesis by December 2015.