Pros and Cons of Studying Business Online
Pursuing an education online is one of the most popular ways to enhance your education without adhering to the traditional on-campus schooling system. Over 4.6 million students were taking at least one online course in 2008, a 17-percent increase from the previous year. Furthermore, one of the most popular study options cited by these students was online business courses.
The National Center for Educational Statistics reports that business degrees are currently the most widely sought out major - 20 percent of all degrees awarded in 2007 were business related. More and more accredited and respectable schools are offering online business courses and online business degrees at associate's, bachelor's, master's and even doctoral levels. Anyone wanting to augment their education, change or upgrade their career, and gain the skills needed to excel in the world of business should carefully weigh the pros and cons of studying business online.
The Pros of Studying Business Online
Students of all ages and backgrounds are discovering the benefits of furthering their education without having to stop their lives and become a ‘student' again, by studying business online. Below are some of the pros that come with an online business education program:
- The freedom and flexibility - There is nothing more liberating than knowing that you don't have to wake up every morning, drive to school, and spend three to six hours a day in a lecture hall. Students are able to work at their own pace, and at any time of the day, including nights and weekends. All you need is a computer and an internet connection.
- Comfort and convenience - Students are able to work from home which is not only a time saver but also a huge stress reliever. Many busy moms prefer to obtain their degree at night, once the kids have been put to sleep, while full-time workers will often spend one day each weekend furthering their education to prepare for a promotion.
- Teacher availability - There may not be ‘office hours' with an online business degree, but this does not mean you will not have access to additonal help and communication when you need it. In fact, most online business students agree that their instructor is available more often online that he or she could be on campus. Furthermore, there is plenty of room for student discussion and interaction with real-time forums and web-based lectures.
- Skills learned - With an online business degree you will not only learn the basics of any business module, including accounting, statistics, report writing, data analysis, and business strategy; but you will also learn valuable lessons in internet usage, independent study, computer networking, meeting deadlines, and time management, skills that are critical to any business environment.
The Cons of Studying Business Online
Of course, there are two sides to every coin. Some of the cons that cannot be ignored include the following:
- The lack of the college experience - For many, missing out on dorm-room parties, pub crawls, and all-night group study sessions is actually a plus. However, many undergraduates would prefer to gain not only an education from their college experience, but also to build lifelong connections and college memories in the process.
- The lack of networking - Learning how to interpret data and analyze market trends is critical to any business major, but so is networking. Business is not only about what you know, but also, and crucially, who you know. With online schooling, you may miss out on the face-to-face interactions and connections needed to improve your public speaking and business proposal skills.
- The need for self-motivation - All aspiring entrepreneurs need to be driven to succeed. However, online business courses require much more ambition than any traditional schooling system. You are 100-percent responsible for your educational success, which can be hard to deal with, especially if you have a million distractions along the way.
- The reputation of the school - Although The Sloan Consortium reports that 62 percent of academic officers said they felt students learned as well, if not better, from online courses as they did in face-to-face ones, there is still a slight stigma to online education. This is why it is so important to always check the legitimacy of the school as well as the accreditation of the degree program through the U.S. Department of Education.
Weighing your Options
Many schools offer a combination of both online and traditional education, as well as distance-education-only courses. Furthermore, there are full-time, part-time, and accelerated options for those pursuing a bachelor's degree, associate's degree, or master's degree in business. You need to look at your current situation - your work commitments, your finances, and your family obligations - to determine if an online business degree is the best option for you.