Posts Tagged ‘online vs in person colleges’

By Mike Hubbartt, © Copyright 2011, All Rights Reserved.

I enrolled in Software Engineering and Web Application Design classes in graduate school last fall and completed all coursework, exams, and projects for both classes on December 21, 2010. The class projects really added to the workload of reading and homework assignments – more than I expected. Something I learned from both classes is to start any project in future classes the days they are assigned, because the homework and exams and reading assignments don’t slack up until the semester is over. And yes, mid-term exams are not easy.

I learned a lot in my first semester as a grad student. Both of my classes exposed me to unfamiliar tools and technologies which can only help my career as a developer. I probably grew more technically than any semester or year at the undergrad level.

Knowing what I know now, I’m glad I went on with my education after completing my undergraduate degree. The pace of grad classes is much faster and in far greater depth than comperable undergrad courses, but the knowledge gained is well worth the effort spent reading the textbooks and researching the subjects.

I’m looking forward to resuming school in the spring. I’ve enrolled in 2 classes: Database Systems Management and Design, and Advanced Web Application Development. I had two database classes as an undergraduate, and one of the classes used the same textbook as the grad school class, so I get to save $100+. The only required book for the advanced web book was available on Amazon for $10 + s/h, so my textbook expenses are minor this semester.

I believe this career move is good regardless of the age of the student. The only warning I would give prospective grad students is that you must sacrifice time spent on leisure activities (TV, golf, flying, etc), as you will spend a lot of times hitting the books and working on your computer. You must establish and follow a regular study schedule, and reading ahead of the topics covered in class is a must. I’d suggest new students buy a good laptop, even though we didn’t need them when on campus at St. Thomas.

The experience of being in classes on campus, being with teachers and fellow students is great. I have no doubt I’d much rather attend classes in person than take them from an online university. I look forward to completing my Masters degree and expect I’ll continue to take classes after I’ve graduated, as I truly enjoy being back in school.

By Mike Hubbartt, © Copyright 2010, All Rights Reserved.

There are many schools that offer different programs for people to earn college degrees at the undergraduate and graduate level. I earned my undergraduate degree at Augsburg College, where I attended all but one course on campus. I did History of Jazz online and enjoyed the subject, as well as the interaction with the professor and classmates, but felt I got more out of being in a classroom. I’m now in St. Thomas’  graduate program, and I like seeing the professors and classmates regularly in person. It is nice to see other people with the same goal I have, which encourages me to keep working hard so I too achieve my goal of an advanced degree.

I’ve only spoken with one person that received a degree online (a Masters Degree in Computer Science) and I must admit I wasn’t impressed. This person said he earned a Masters Degree in Computer Science, but he couldn’t write code well enough or fast enough to do it for a living. I have to wonder why he bothered with the time and expense. He said his school (some unaccredited city college in Seattle) didn’t bother teaching computer science theory – they taught the students how to use Visual Studio and some programming languages. I believe he said they spent a total of 2 weeks learning how to write SQL queries… Whoa! I can honestly say my undergrad and grad school profs don’t take that approach. I’m certain other online schools offer a more traditional approach to teaching computer science.

What about your education experience? Did you go to some of the online schools like the University of Phoenix or Capella? Are the schools and programs accredited locally and nationally? How was the experience and would you recommend it to friends and family members? Lastly, did you go online because work/family considerations made it the best course of action? I’d like to hear some positive stories about online schools from students, which we can share with out readers.

What is your take?