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Myths and Realities of Pursuing a Degree Online

While earning your degree online has become increasingly widespread, myths still persist regarding educational outcomes, program rigor and more. We’ve demystified some common concerns about online education.

Myth: Online education is not as effective as traditional classroom instruction.

Several studies, including one by researchers from MIT and Harvard, have found that online learning is just as effective, if not more effective, than learning in a traditional classroom setting. The study by MIT and Harvard found that students learned more in the online classroom, even those who were the least prepared. A meta-analysis by the U.S. Department of Education found that students in the online classroom performed modestly better as well.

Myth: Online degrees are easier.

This “myth” actually contains two false components. The first is that it implies the course content of online degrees is easier. This is untrue because, as discussed later on, online degrees from Florida Tech contain the same learning objectives and curriculum as on-campus programs.

The second implication is that the experience of earning your degree online is easier. This is also misleading. While online degree programs provide the flexibility working professionals need to complete their coursework on their own time, the discussion board posts, research papers, tests and more still demand significant time and effort. As Yvell Simmons, Florida Tech psychology graduate, said, “Don’t think that just because it’s online it’s easy, because the professors are for real and the grades are for real.

Myth: Federal financial aid and tuition assistance are only available for on-campus programs.

The process of applying for federal financial aid is typically the same as it is for on-campus programs. Students have to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) using their school’s code. However, according to U.S. News, financial aid may differ depending on if students are in class full-time or part-time.

While there may be many scholarships for on-campus students, online students can still find scholarships available to them. Check out our ten tips for finding scholarships here.

Myth: I do not have enough time to earn my degree online.

From the working mother with six children to the corrections officer working twelve-hour night shifts, hundreds of Florida Tech grads have found the time to successfully earn their degrees. As grad Bryan Cortez put it:

“I’m proud to say that I did it with four kids at home, while coaching T-ball, being in the Navy reserves, working full-time, all at the same time. And when people say they don’t have time to do it, I can look at them and say, ‘You’ve got time. You can find time.’”

This is not to say that time management isn’t a challenge – students have to exercise excellent time management to stay on track with their courses. However, with proper scheduling and dedication, many students find the time to earn their degrees despite hectic work schedules, family obligations and other responsibilities.

Myth: Online degree programs are different from on-campus programs.

At Florida Tech, degree programs offered online have the same rigorous curriculum as programs offered on-campus. Instructor Jarin Eisenberg says:

“We make every effort to mirror our online curriculum to our on-campus curriculum. So, in terms of academics, I think there is a lot of parity there and the academic content students receive and the assignments they have to complete are very similar to those of our on-campus student population.”

Faculty work with learning design experts to deliver course materials in an interactive and engaging format online to enhance the student experience, but the learning objectives and outcomes remain the same.

Want to learn more about Florida Tech’s online degree programs? Check out this insider’s guide to online learning written by Jarin Eisenberg.

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