What the General Public Doesn’t Understand about Online Education

Barry Lenson

What the General Public Doesn’t Understand about Online Education

What the General Public Doesn’t Understand about Online Education

Not too long ago I met a student who needed to complete just one class – a lab science – before he could finish required coursework and collect his diploma. Our conversation went something like this . . .

“I’m spending half the summer taking a bio course at a local college,” he said. “It’s a drag, I have to take time off from my job to go to class, and that costs me money. Plus, the course is costing about $600 for the basic class and the lab fee.”

“Well, you could earn those same credits for a ton less with an online course at StraighterLine,” I said. “In fact, you could actually pay only about $138 if you sign up for a $99 monthly plan and then pay $39 for the course. Plus, you can do all your work online whenever you want, without needing to take time off from work.”

The student smiled a little and looked at me as though I were laying a load of malarkey on him.

“Nobody can earn three college credits for $138!” he said in disbelief. And even though I tried to explain further, he just wasn’t listening.

Why wasn’t he paying attention? It’s anybody’s guess, but when something sounds too good to be true, people assume that you are lying. (I guess I would be guilty of thinking that way too if somebody came up to me on the street and said, “Want to buy a brand new Corvette for $3,000?”)

Yet sometimes things don’t only sound too good to be true. Sometimes, they really are. When people hear about the exceptional value that StraighterLine offers and just don’t believe it, I suspect that they have fallen victim to believing some of these “common wisdom” myths about online education . . .

  • Myth #1 – “Online courses cost just as much as classroom courses.” Of course some of them do . . . but not all.
  • Myth #2 – “Online schools dishonestly collect federal educational funds.”  Some online schools – and brick-and-mortar schools too - have been investigated for shady activities like that. But StraighterLine simply concentrates on selling excellent courses at rock-bottom prices.
  • Myth #3 – “My regular college would never accept credits that I earned by taking an online course.” Not true! The fact is, thousands of students are having no problem getting their credits transferred to their regular “brick and mortar” colleges.
  • Myth #4 - “My parents, friends and other people won’t understand why I am taking courses online instead of in the classroom.” Well, maybe they won’t understand at first. But if you explain how much money and time you are saving, chances are that they will respect you and maybe even sign up for online courses too.

Online education isn’t the only new idea that people believed was too good to be true. At first, many people thought that automobiles would never replace horse-drawn carriages.  Other people thought that toilets would never replace outhouses. Still others thought that there would never be a need for personal computers.

It takes people a little time to get up on the learning curve and accept developments that are new and better. Perhaps when you meet people like that, you can talk about online learning and help show them the way.

Related Readings

Trends in Online Education: Going Back to School
Where Can You Transfer Your StraighterLine Credits?
How Does StraighterLine Work?
How Much Does a StraighterLine Course Cost?
How Do StraighterLine Online Courses Work?
StraighterLine’s Story Getting Told by Press

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