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Online vs. Traditional Degrees?

Cliff posted more than 8 years ago | from the prestige-and-perception dept.

Education 467

Justin Rainbow asks: "As a computer science student, avid internet user and full-time programmer I find it very appealing to finish my CS degree online. Finishing at least a year early and studying whenever I want are just a couple of the draws to the online campus. However, are these internet degrees even worth the paper their printed on? Is an online degree just a waste of money? Can an online degree give you just as many opportunities as a traditional university? Has anyone in the Slashdot community graduated from one of these online schools? Did it help or hurt your career? What about graduate school admissions? Does an online degree hurt your chances to get into a great graduate school?"

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First post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13955401)

Oh/

first (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13955402)

frist pist

Classes offered online (5, Informative)

ITchix0r (883851) | more than 8 years ago | (#13955403)

There are other options too. Some major universities offer courses exclusively online in addition to the traditional classroom so you may want to consider that.

Re:Classes offered online (3, Informative)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 8 years ago | (#13955448)

Some major universities offer courses exclusively online in addition to the traditional classroom
It's not just major universities, it's also community colleges. I teach at a community college, and although I haven't taught an online course, I know many people who have. Most of what I hear is pretty negative -- the students are typically taking it online because they think it'll be easier if they don't have to show up to class.

I don't understand how they can offer an entire degree online. For instance, there's typically a ged ed requirement for a B.A. that you have to take a physical science course with a lab. How the heck are you going to do a real college-level physics lab course, for example, if you don't have any of the expensive equipment? What would a chem course be like? "OK, now mix some baking soda and vinegar, and post about what happened."

I agree (2, Insightful)

elucido (870205) | more than 8 years ago | (#13955492)

A completely online degree will not work for physics. However for computer science you don't need to go to class.

I think it depends on the degree, but in general, when you want to get your REAL degree from graduate school you definately wont want to do it online.

Re:I agree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13955558)

Well, in most Computer Science programs they involve at least 2 science class with labs, taken in sequence. I'm not sure if its like that everywhere, but I've had the experience of 3 different universities.

Re:I agree (4, Funny)

MstrFool (127346) | more than 8 years ago | (#13955635)

But honestly officer, it's not a meth lab, I'm just working on my online chemistry class.

Re:Classes offered online (1)

solarmist (313127) | more than 8 years ago | (#13955514)

The school I go to requires you to complete some of those courses before you begin their program. For that exact reason.

Re:Classes offered online (2, Interesting)

shbazjinkens (776313) | more than 8 years ago | (#13955623)

How the heck are you going to do a real college-level physics lab course, for example, if you don't have any of the expensive equipment? What would a chem course be like? "OK, now mix some baking soda and vinegar, and post about what happened."

I briefly attended a community college with online and by-wire classes. I spoke with someone who had taken Chem 1314 online, and when I asked the same question I got the same answer you just assumed. They'd use household items in really basic home experimentation labs. Sometimes there'd be less common ingredients, like citric acid, but mostly stuff I did in elementary school classrooms.

I took a by-wire class in high school from the same college, the quality was pretty much the same as my traditional classes because it was a Humanities class and largely lecture based. I can't imagine how an online chem course could match my lab experience though, especially with regards to learning proper yield calculations and the use of precision measuring equipment.

When Harvard or MIT offers online courses (0, Troll)

elucido (870205) | more than 8 years ago | (#13955476)

thats when online courses will matter. Unless you have a degree from an elite ivy league school, you arent going to have a good job in technology unless you have a masters degree or Phd, and your online degree will be garbage when compared to a Phd from India or China.

Get your ass in school and get your Phd or be jobless.

Re:When Harvard or MIT offers online courses (1)

Gilmoure (18428) | more than 8 years ago | (#13955516)

You can't get a good tech job with out a degree from an ivy league school? What is your definition of good?

A good job pays at least $100,000 a year. (0, Troll)

elucido (870205) | more than 8 years ago | (#13955542)

Basically you won't meet the kinds of people who start million dollar corporations and who can give you a job paying $100,000 a year at a community college. You certainly cannot work your way up to $100,000 a year because people who join the right fraturnities get first pick of all the jobs. If you want to have a good job, meaning a job which pays at least $100,000 a year, then you have to go to an ivy league school or at least a very elite good school and know the right people.

It is impossible to get a job which pays $100,000 a year if you arent ivy league or born into it. Perhaps with a Phd you can, but you'll have a shit job at Walmart with your bachelors degree.

Re:A good job pays at least $100,000 a year. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13955570)

A little bitter that you didn't join a frat?

Re:A good job pays at least $100,000 a year. (2, Informative)

Diomedes01 (173241) | more than 8 years ago | (#13955595)

I'm sorry, but I have to take exception to this... I attended an average university to receive my B.S. in Computer Science, but while working there managed to score a paid co-op at a large technology corporation; they were impressed with my work, and hired me full-time upon graduation. I am not saying this to toot my own horn, but it is hardly a "shit job at Walmart"; I'm sure many other Slashdotters can give you similar stories. If you were trying to troll, then Bravo! You succeeded in pissing me off.

If you weren't trying to troll, then you're just a dumbass, in which case I will take advice from Dogbert, and say "Meh".

Re:A good job pays at least $100,000 a year. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13955607)

Not true. My father is a high school dropout and makes around 100k. He is now going back to school to update his skill set (he's an expert with Mainframes).

Re:A good job pays at least $100,000 a year. (1)

KylePflug (898555) | more than 8 years ago | (#13955620)

Sorry, but that's pretty ignorant. I have friends and family without doctoral degrees who are making in excess of $100,000, not because of fraternities or associations, but because they are good at what they do and at marketing themselves. My dad's been at Boeing for close to thirty years, and he doesn't have a Ph.D -- just a masters in Philosophy from a state university. Yet he's worked at Boeing, was laid off after 9/11 but they came crawling back last year, and in the interim he was offered a position at Microsoft after lots of consulting.

Basically, you don't know what you're talking about.

Re:Classes offered online (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13955539)

I'm doing my CS Masters online at USC (ranked 17th in the US for CS). The degree is no different than the traditional degree. I have to take all the same courses, and not different, online versions of them either. I am in the same classes as on-campus students and do all the same coursework. I watch lectures over the internet. I take tests at a local, certified testing center. The tests are identical to what the on-campus students take.

sweden represent (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13955408)

frist post for drunkenness

A traditional degree is better for grad school (4, Interesting)

joelparker (586428) | more than 8 years ago | (#13955416)

A traditional degree is better for grad school because in a traditional school you are more likely to have opportunites for interaction with professors who can recommend you.

Re:A traditional degree is better for grad school (1)

MrRage (677798) | more than 8 years ago | (#13955441)

That is, assuming they're not printed on cheap paper.

Not only this (5, Insightful)

elucido (870205) | more than 8 years ago | (#13955518)

But if you don't interact with professors not only will you not have to worry about grad school, how are you going to network for a job once you go to business school or law school?

Imagine getting a business or law degree online and trying to become a judge or work for a fortune 500 company.

Re:A traditional degree is better for grad school (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13955622)

True...and the academics who sit on the admissions committees (and who got their graduate degrees through the traditional channels) are going to trust the standard way, since they will have to decide whether to put online students or traditional students in the spots they have available. If you are serious about grad school, you should absolutely pursue the traditional path. Interaction with colleagues is essential in the academy (and so is a stellar academic pedigree).

Go for it! (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13955417)

Most traditional universities now offer online degrees. Thus you don't have to go to a "Internet College". Even Dartmouth, Harvard and Berkeley offer them.

Re:Go for it! (1)

jumbledInTheHead (837677) | more than 8 years ago | (#13955550)

A few select online courses and an entire online degree seem worlds apart to me. The name on the diploma is actually worth something, so is interacting with fellow students and the professors. Lord help whoever tries to get a letter of recommendation from someone they have never met.

The most important difference (2, Funny)

Mensa Babe (675349) | more than 8 years ago | (#13955418)

is that traditional degrees are actually worth the paper they're printed on.

Re:The most important difference (1)

cyclopropene (777291) | more than 8 years ago | (#13955497)

Damn, you stole my joke. ;-)

Re:The most important difference (2, Funny)

h3llfish (663057) | more than 8 years ago | (#13955499)

Obviously you didn't go to any university at all, or you wouldn't be ending your sentences with prepositions.

Re:The most important difference (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13955524)

Obviously you didn't go to any university at all, or you wouldn't be ending your sentences with prepositions.

Ok, so then the difference is that traditional degrees are actually worth the paper they're printed on, asshole.

Re:The most important difference (3, Funny)

Fallingcow (213461) | more than 8 years ago | (#13955541)

Be careful with the insults.

I'm sure the guy's OK most of the time, but don't push him too far.

There are some things up with which he will not put.

Re:The most important difference (2, Interesting)

h3llfish (663057) | more than 8 years ago | (#13955634)

Touche! That's why I come to the dot, for the clever repartee!

Look, d00d, I'm not some kind of grammer cop. I only correct people who make their gramatical errors in the course of a snobbish dismissal of other people's educations.

Re:The most important difference (2, Funny)

Gilmoure (18428) | more than 8 years ago | (#13955535)

is that traditional degrees are actually worth the paper they're printed on, asshole!

How's that?

Flamebait? Come on! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13955632)

Whoever modded this flamebait hasn't got no understanding of grammar. I just wonder where they got they're degree.

Not bad (1)

gcnaddict (841664) | more than 8 years ago | (#13955420)

Youve gotten me interested;

I've done several online certification programs and I have to agree, but I have no idea if a Computer Science course online is a good route. I would love to hear some opinions on this matter as well.

English first! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13955421)

However, are these internet degrees even worth the paper their printed on?

If you can't find the error in that sentence, you shouldn't be allowed to get an online degree!

Re:English first! (2, Insightful)

presidentbeef (779674) | more than 8 years ago | (#13955482)

Actually, errors.
Finding them is an exercise left to the reader.

(Sorry to perpetuate this...)

Re:English first! -- Going way OT... (1)

kasparov (105041) | more than 8 years ago | (#13955615)

Regarding: However, are these internet degrees even worth the paper their printed on?

Ooh, let me try! "Are these Internet degrees even worth the paper on which they're printed?" is the corrected sentence. At least, I hope it is. :-)

Yes, it matters. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13955422)

As a medium sized business owner (150+ employees) I can say with certainty that brick and mortar schools matter. Nothing can replace face to face experience and interaction over the course of 3 to 5 years. On the other hand, if you are over 25, just work on your resume. If you've made it this far without the degree, it's not going to help you climb the wage ladder.

Re:Yes, it matters. (5, Insightful)

toddbu (748790) | more than 8 years ago | (#13955480)

On the other hand, if you are over 25, just work on your resume. If you've made it this far without the degree, it's not going to help you climb the wage ladder.

This is really, really bad advice. Even though I've learned most of what I know through practical experience, my 4 years of college has really helped me. Too many programmers don't understand foundational concepts, and subsequently they lack the tools to adequately understand how to solve a problem. Picking some arbitrary age limit and saying that you shouldn't do any formal learning after that time is just plain stupid. Shame on you for even making that suggestion.

Re:Yes, it matters. (5, Insightful)

sexyrexy (793497) | more than 8 years ago | (#13955504)

I agree with your position, but not your reasoning. I find that good programmers are good programmers, regardless of whether they have a degree or not. I've never, in my career, seen a developer who understands fundamentals because of college, and I've never seen one who lacks skills because he or she didn't go to college.

However, a degree will generally add at least 10 g's to your salary, when you are compared to someone with comparable skill without a degree. College is the way to go. Doesn't matter if it is online or not - a degree is just an extra foot in the door. Talent and people skills will take you the rest of the way from there.

Re:Yes, it matters. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13955625)

Great programmers have a few things in common. One is intelligence. But what I think to be even more important is an interest or maybe even obsession with programming. I guess they go hand in hand a little bit because if you are stupid you aren't likely to find programming very interesting.

I'm obsessed with programming, and by the argument above I'm probably at least not stupid.

I have a Master of Science in Computer science. I would have been a better programmer than many with a college degree even if I didn't have my degree.

But what matters is that I'm a better programmer because of my degree, than I would have been without it.

The grand grand parent post (the 150+ employee guy) is giving really bad advice when he says to not get a college degree if you are older than 25.

Re:Yes, it matters. (1)

Gilmoure (18428) | more than 8 years ago | (#13955543)

Not everyone in tech is a programmer.

Re:Yes, it matters. (1)

queef_latina (847562) | more than 8 years ago | (#13955561)

Agreed, but programmers are the only ones that will actually 'go anywhere.' Programmers are like the doctors, and everyone else is changing the bedpans. Or, cleaning the stables, if you like.

Re:Yes, it matters. (2, Insightful)

spagetti_code (773137) | more than 8 years ago | (#13955598)

As an employer, i would say this is truely awful advice. I like staff with the enthusiasm, determination and interest to extend themselves, especially if it is an area that will advance my company. Even if its not directly related, it still attracts my attention.

Never believe your education has ever finished.

Is the online school accredited? (1)

winkydink (650484) | more than 8 years ago | (#13955423)

If so, it should not matter for your undergrad degree. As for getting into a good grad school, I have no idea, but again, if it's accredited, it should be looked at in the same light.

Re:Is the online school accredited? (1)

lordofthechia (598872) | more than 8 years ago | (#13955494)

if it's accredited, it should be looked at in the same light.

Aye, accreditation is key. If it's not accredited then the degree will do you no good if you're looking at getting your Master's from an accredited institution. From Georgia Tech's Master's in CS [gatech.edu] :

"The program is designed for students who possess a bachelor's degree in computer science from an accredited institution."

If an online college starts talking about how accrediation is bupkus walk away and keep looking.

Re:Is the online school accredited? (4, Insightful)

Jozer99 (693146) | more than 8 years ago | (#13955540)

Most grad schools want dozens of letters of recomendation. Sure, you can probably get them from your boss, mailman, ect... But they carry more weight if they are from a professor who worked with you on a research project for 3 years that was just featured on slashdot.

Re:Is the online school accredited? (1)

jumbledInTheHead (837677) | more than 8 years ago | (#13955585)

Whether a university is accredited is not the only thing that matters for getting into grad school. Even of real, as in sit in a class, universities are treated substantially differently. Besides as other people have alluded to, for grad school letters of rec are one of the most important factors. I doubt you could get a worthwhile letter of rec from a prof you only "met" online. Not to mention, I doubt the professors teaching online are worthwhile to get letters of rec from. There is a famous saying "it's not what you know, it's who you know." A good letter of rec from someone the professors at the other school know can be priceless.

They can be the same (5, Interesting)

solarmist (313127) | more than 8 years ago | (#13955425)

It depends. Right now I'm enrolled in University of Illinois - Springfield's (UIS) online computer science degree and they don't make any mention that it was online when you graduate. So, it is the same degree that the students on campus get, but UIS isn't exactly in the top of the computer science programs. I feel satisfied with the degree though. Also, University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign offers a professional masters degree in computer science (also no mention when you get your degree that it was online) and I believe that would help you quite a bit because UIUC is a very highly ranked computer science program. So, I would say as long as you take it from a school that has a traditional campus and degree in computer science. It'll be pretty much equivilent to their on campus degree. But I wouldn't touch University of Pheonix or similar "Universities" with a ten foot pole. That's as close to buying your degree as you can get and your school still being accredited.

Re:They can be the same (4, Interesting)

Helios1182 (629010) | more than 8 years ago | (#13955467)

I'm in the PhD program at UI - Chicago (not online), and I am a TA for a couple online courses. There is no mention that the courses (for a professional Masters in Engineering) are online at the end of the degree.

Re:They can be the same (2, Interesting)

solarmist (313127) | more than 8 years ago | (#13955474)

Right and the syllabus for the courses are almost the same too, aren't they?

Re:They can be the same (2, Informative)

Helios1182 (629010) | more than 8 years ago | (#13955526)

The two courses I'm involved in do not have on-campus counterparts, but more than half of the students enrolled are in on-campus programs and it works just the same as any other course for them.

spam (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13955426)

get your 0nline uni\/ersity D3grees now! Only ONE CLlCK away

Which kind of 'online' degree exactly? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13955428)

Are we talking about the Click 'buy now' to complete your degree kind?

Your a moron (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13955429)

eom

opportunities (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13955436)

Can an online degree give you just as many opportunities as a traditional university?

Sadly, no. Cybering just doesn't cut it sometimes.

It depends (4, Insightful)

ForumTroll (900233) | more than 8 years ago | (#13955437)

It completely depends on where you get your online degree. Many universities offer online degree programs that are fully recognized at accredited universities. This is something that you have to look for and be aware of. I suggest contacting other universities and inquiring whether they recognize degrees from the online university you are considering, and also make sure that credits from the online university are transferable to other universities.

Also, you have to make sure that you're able to stay motivated working in an environment of your choice. Like many telework situations, some people find that they're not productive at home due to too many distractions. I know a few people who are incredibly smart that have received online degrees and it really depends a lot on how motivated you are and how much you want to get out of it. They also recommending asking as many questions as possible to make sure you get the most out of your education experience.

Degree is not the be all (4, Insightful)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 8 years ago | (#13955440)

A good reason to attend school in meatspace is that you can interact with others, form groups, work on tasks.

Just because you have a degree doesn't mean you'll be successful in what you are doing. You have to actually do something people can use [e.g. want, has a value, etc] to make money and/or fame. If you're lucky enough to be self-motivated to do your own work/projects then online could be ok. However, most are not and required a good kick in the ass to get going.

Another good reason for attending real school is you get to meet new peeps, socialize, do something other than being alone at home.

I can see the value of an online degree but only in the most limited of situations, e.g. you're already working and you want formalization or you live in the sticks and can't afford to move out, etc.

Tom

Re:Degree is not the be all (2, Interesting)

solarmist (313127) | more than 8 years ago | (#13955452)

They require quite a bit of group work in my program online. And yes I agree that traditional is better. I have no choice. I'm working full time in Korea and that really limits my options for getting my degree otherwise.

Re:Degree is not the be all (1)

JudasBlue (409332) | more than 8 years ago | (#13955548)

Yeah, I agree with this. I got a lot of interaction with other students and my professors in college that I don't think I would have had online. I just watched my girl friend do an online masters that seemed like a good enough course, but the kind of interaction she was getting in email and using the courseware stuff wasn't the same as the kind of interaction I got going brick and mortar.

A big part of my college time was lots of access to my professors and kicking about their offices working on projects and playing with ideas. But I went to a third rate state school and they seemed happy just to have a student who actually wanted to learn and had project ideas. At a good school, with higher profile professors and a presumably more talented group of students, your interaction as an undergrad with your professors is much more limited, and I wonder if you wouldn't get as much if not more interaction online.

So are you going for an online grad school too ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13955442)

Look, if you don't find your academics very appealing now, why will you like it in grad school ?

I noticed "learning lots of new stuff" was not among the appeals of an online degree to you. Look, you are obviously not big on school at the moment. The answer is called a "leave of absence", which is a way of dropping out but keeping the door open to go back. Tell them it is for financial reasons. If you like your new job and are happy, don't go back.

If you only have a year left, you know by now that you *could* learn anything offered in classes by getting the right books and exercising a little self discipline. If you don't like it, leave. You did the college thing, you have the t-shirts, maybe now it's time to get rich ?

Re:So are you going for an online grad school too (1)

h3llfish (663057) | more than 8 years ago | (#13955575)

There are many compelling reasons to get a degree that have nothing to do with learning. I think the reason I put college off for years was that older people kept telling me to find something I was "passionate" about, and I did - but none of those things offered a realistic chance to earn a living. Most of the jobs that pay well, it turns out, are decidedly NOT fun. That's why you have to pay people so much to do them.

So I say, don't tell this guy that he needs to love what he does. He needs to make money and feed himself. He can be passionate about watching football on sunday like everyone else.

Jobs, and school, are not really about enjoyment.

it's the students (5, Funny)

kartan (906030) | more than 8 years ago | (#13955444)

However, are these internet degrees even worth the paper their printed on?

Looks like the brick-and-mortar ones aren't worth much either.

Re:it's the students (1)

Rayaru (898516) | more than 8 years ago | (#13955610)

Psh, everyone knows real programmers can't spell good.

Online Degree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13955445)

I would not hire a person with an online degree in most scenario's. While you may be able to get a quality education online, there is still a strong stigma associated with online degrees in my mind. If you're only after an associate's degree it may be comparable to a community college but it would be very suspect for a bachelor's degree in my mind. I can not say much about academia, but I assume having an online degree would make you all but ineligible for grad school.

Not really a good way to go outside of tech (2, Insightful)

RLiegh (247921) | more than 8 years ago | (#13955447)

If you're looking at any field outside of IT, online courses are really lacking because you have zero interaction with other students, and that's a good part of where your experience with work politics, and where your future contacts will come from.

Re:Not really a good way to go outside of tech (1)

gallen1234 (565989) | more than 8 years ago | (#13955513)

The idea that you won't interact with other students is completely false. I have two advanced degrees, an M.S. in mathematics from the University of Florida earned at the school and an MBA from Baker College earned through their online program. I had just as much interaction with my fellow students in both programs.

The only criteria that really matters in terms of acceptance (other than general quality of the program which you have to consider with a brick-and-mortar program also) is whether or not the school is accredited by a recognized regional accrediting authority such as the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. (You can find a list of them at http://www.ope.ed.gov/accreditation/Search.asp. [ed.gov] ) If you're really concerned about general acceptance then you should also ask whether or not your degree will mention that it was earned online. My MBA, for example, is exactly the same as the ones that the college gives the students who physically attend one of their campuses.

Choose wisely (1)

lordofthechia (598872) | more than 8 years ago | (#13955449)

I've personally taken online courses which were offered by a brick and mortar institution and those were quite well structured and the degree I ended up with was no different than what I would have gotten had I physically attended. Now I've done some research into getting a 2nd degree wholely online and I've found out that theres alot of places that do a really good job of passing themselves off as a real institution but are nothing more than a diploma mill. Avoid any places that shorten degrees to 18mo to two years, ask for your resume to try to give you "life experience credit", and/or try really hard to get you to pay the application fee by CC ASAP (such as Kennedy-Western [kw.edu] ).

If you have a place you'd like to work for in mind, call them up and talk to their HR dept. Just ask them what online degrees they recommend and past hirees have had in the past, after all they'll be the ones ultimately deciding how good that degree was.

Wow (3, Funny)

kramthegram (918152) | more than 8 years ago | (#13955453)

I went four years for my degree at a private school at a cost of 21 grand a year. Thats 84 grand in total. You're telling me that paper they printed the degree on it work 84k, I'm heading to ebay right now!

Real School (4, Insightful)

MBCook (132727) | more than 8 years ago | (#13955460)

There is nothing wrong with an online degree that I can think of, as long as you get it from a real school. DeVry, Keller Graduate, University of Phoenix Online, and many state/community colleges offer online degrees in various subjects.

As long as it is backed by a real school, I see no problem at all.

Re:Real School (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13955510)

Wait - when did DeVry, Keller Graduate, and University of Pheonix become real schools?

Re:Real School (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 8 years ago | (#13955639)

You do NOT want a "degree" from somewhere like DeVry, if you can help it. I have a friend who graduated from there this past spring (he got a degree in "Electrical Engineering Technology" or something like that), and where do you think he's working now?

Fry's Electronics.

Sadly, the whole "get your degree in 3 years, and cheap!" thing doesn't seem to impress the people hiring for Real Jobs, even when it comes from a brick-and-mortar school. I bet they'd be even more dubious about an online one.

Now, on the other hand, an online degree from a good, accredited* school might be better, but the keywords here are "good" and "accredited". I have a feeling that I'll be a hell of a lot better off getting a real Engineering degree in five years than he is from getting an "engineering technology" in three.

*Note: DeVry is accredited in my friend's major... for another couple of months! : /

Where do you live? (2, Interesting)

Psionicist (561330) | more than 8 years ago | (#13955464)


It probably depends on where you live. I did three years of high school completely online in Sweden, only visited the actual school building once. My grades I got from that school are no different than my brothers grades he got in a "regular school" (only mine are higher, but that's because I didn't drink so much beer, anyhow). I know there are several, real, universities here where you can read different courses and get lesser degrees. So it's certainly possible. If you are talking about the kind of "university" you get spam from ("get a prestigious degree from uni. of liverpool" or something) then you should of course stay away.

Employers don't value a degree *that* much... (1)

mortong (914447) | more than 8 years ago | (#13955468)

Or hey, while you're at it just head for the local community college. I hear AA degrees are the next Ph.D.

Recent grad here (3, Insightful)

1000101 (584896) | more than 8 years ago | (#13955470)

I graduated with a CS degree in August 2004. Like most of my peers, I used the internet heavily for research, problem solving, and certification training. Perhaps the biggest problem with online degrees is the level of understanding you will receive. Computer Science is not an easy subject. The math alone is the reason many people drop out of the school. You will never get the same education from an online degree as you would from a traditional university. Yes, you can email or live chat with a 'professor', but that is no substitute for real, in-person communication during class time. Also, the in-class discussions are an integral part of understanding the more complex subjects. If you are genuinely concerned about what you will get out of the degree and not just the piece of paper, I would strongly consider not getting the online degree. Whatever your decision is, good luck in your future.

Re:Recent grad here (1)

solarmist (313127) | more than 8 years ago | (#13955501)

I agree with this to a point. If you have the drive and talent to learn this stuff on your own then it can be equivlent, but if you need to be spoon fed, then the will never be equvilent. I mean I took Advanced Calculus, Mathematical Statistics, and this spring I'm taking Abstract Algebra online, so if I had to rely on the professor to spoon feed me mathematics over the computer I would be dead in the water, but I've learned how to use the lecture notes and textbook to understand math, so why wouldn't I be able to get an equivlent education in other subjects.

on to grad school... (1)

pikine (771084) | more than 8 years ago | (#13955472)

Does an online degree hurt your chances to get into a great graduate school?"

Grad school admission staffs are also wondering whether people who graduated with an online degree is worth what is printed on the paper. Many professors are already skeptical about how an applicant's transcript reflects his/her true academic performance, with a traditional degree. An online degree has very little precedence, so they would only be even more skeptical. You not only have to have good grades, you also need to stand out on other things, like meeting a professor in a conference and show an active interest in his/her work.

They can be (4, Informative)

restive (542491) | more than 8 years ago | (#13955473)

Depending on what kind of degree you want to pursue, an online degree definitely can be equivalent to a "traditional" degree. I have a B.S. from Rochester Institute of Technology, and completed my entirely at night through their Distance Learning [rit.edu] program while I was working for a software company full-time. Because it's an accredited school and my degree was "work related," I was even able to use tuition reimbursement from work to pay for it.

When I decided to go to law school (2nd tier), the fact that I had earned my distance learning degree wasn't even mentioned (yes, I was accepted). In my case, there is no difference between my degree and the same degree earned on campus.

I'm certain there will be a lot of naysayers who are convinced that all online degrees are worthless, but it's not true. It depends on the school (accredited, etc.) and the type of degree you're looking for. Even if you're just looking for a way to get some extra credits, most schools will let you take DL courses from an accredited school and transfer them into your program.

Do your research and you'll find there are a lot of legitimate options out there. John Bear has written some good books about where to get quality distance learning education.

Re:They can be (2, Interesting)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 8 years ago | (#13955568)

I think it definitely depends on two things: 1) Is the school a "real" school? and 2) why is the student interested in doing an online school? In your case, you went to a good school and did it online because you had a job. I don't think that's a hard sell to an admissions committee or potential employer.

If someone's talking about U Phoenix or the like, I don't care if it's online or not, it's nearly worthless.

With any online degree program, the one thing that will always be missing is the person-to-person interaction. I'd only recommend online college for people like you who are experienced and have been working in the "real world." For someone coming out of high school, it's a terrible idea - they need to learn how to interact with people.

on the other side of that coin (1)

Thecarpe (697076) | more than 8 years ago | (#13955475)

From someone who graduated college a decade ago with no computer training, I can tell you that online degrees are still okay if they are paired with communications skills. A good college degree from an acredited institution really only means you are trainable. Aside from the ability to write and communicate well, I'm using none of the information I was degreed in now that I'm in the business world. I am taking continuing professional education courses (single day cert classes) on various topics centering on multimedia work, web design, and flash. There is a certain point where companies look on this as good additional training and they will actually pay for it. Bottom line: I'm not the least bit afraid of how unconventional education looks on my resume - it's better to have it than not. However, none of it is worth squat if you cannot communicate with all levels of an organization effectively and efficiently with the spoken and written word. Become a good speaker, thinker, and writer and that becomes your skillset...the rest is just something handy that you bring to the table.

Don't get fooled! (1)

unvjarhead (928317) | more than 8 years ago | (#13955478)

I have personal experience with one of these online degree companies and know that they are a complete waste of time. Students in these programs don't really desire knowledge. Rather, they want the sheet of paper that specifies them as a college graduate.If you really want to learn you need to be surounded by people who share your goals, not those who share a desire for money. Subconciously every employer stereotypes the aplicants based on many things, often including sex, age, race, and college attended. Although this is unfortunate, it happens, and it's not worth taking the chance. Don't waste the opprotunities you're given and regret it for the rest of your life.
Free Domain Names http://www.ezyrewards.com/?id=27491 [ezyrewards.com]

Shut up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13955565)

faggot. Pimp you're lame ass domains somewhere else.

petrie dish (2, Funny)

john_o_jerk (840264) | more than 8 years ago | (#13955486)

give it a try and let us know how your career turns out!

Depends on the Other Party (1)

Comatose51 (687974) | more than 8 years ago | (#13955489)

Any degree is really just a piece of paper. Yes, you could have gotten a great education at your school but people don't know that unless they see you work. Most people don't have the time nor resources to watch a candidate over a period of time. Instead they depend on the reputation of the school/organization who issued the degree, interviews, essays, etc. (until you get some real experience under your belt and on your resume). So the strength of the degree depends more or less on the credibility of the issuing school/organization, in other words reputation.

I don't know of any online schools with a strong reputation. Even online schools operated by the top universities are met with some skepticism. They're usually view as a venue for the occasional seminars or side hobbies/interests. Most people simply doesn't take online schools seriously. My personal experience with online schooling has been mediocre at best. We're simply not there yet. Everything felt clunky and forced. It was as though they traded quality for the ability to do it online.

As a side note, I personally enjoyed BEING in college and the whole atmosphere. I miss it sometimes now that I'm in the professional world. There was always this dreamy, hopeful feeling to it. It's where ideas are traded and inspirations are found. I miss academia and the pure pursue of knowledge/ideas.

I'm one year into my first job out of college and I think that I was hired partially on the reputation of the name on my degree. I have friends who are brighter than me who went to a less reputable school and friends who weren't all that bright who went to the same school as me. It's not fair, I know, but reputation matters.

Do they make a difference (1)

Munta (925134) | more than 8 years ago | (#13955495)

An online degree. - Hmm.

Three years of study on the web or three years of study with parties, drugs, sex and women?

Re:Do they make a difference (2, Funny)

The Ape With No Name (213531) | more than 8 years ago | (#13955551)

An online degree. - Hmm.

Three years of study on the web or three years of study with parties, drugs, sex and women?


Ummm, we are talking about CS degrees here...

Re:Do they make a difference (1)

XSpud (801834) | more than 8 years ago | (#13955591)

If you're talking about Ritalin and cybersex, 2 out of 4 aint bad!

online versus in-person (1)

techrunner (897148) | more than 8 years ago | (#13955517)

I finished a masters degree doing it partly online and the rest in person. In my opinion, you learn the same amount either way. You do the same homework and you listen to the same lectures. The only disadvantage is you miss out on the college experience. After taking a class online, you will realize how much you miss having classmates to complain and talk with.

Open University (4, Interesting)

verbnoun (920657) | more than 8 years ago | (#13955521)

The Open University [open.ac.uk] in the UK could be considered to do "online degrees" although they call it "distance learning". According to TQI [tqi.ac.uk] , an organistation that gives access to official information about the quality of Higher Education, the OU is rated very highly for all subjects.

Welcome to Illiterate, USA. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13955536)

EOM.

Accreditation is the key (1)

i.r.id10t (595143) | more than 8 years ago | (#13955544)

If the school is accredited, then there should be no issues. The college I work for (in the online education area no less) is accredited by SACS [sacs.org] . And SACS states (and enforces and checks for) equivalency between classes - same outcome, same expectations of students, etc. Not only that, but section numbers aren't on transcripts or degrees - so the only way for someone to know if classes were taken online would be for them to look at your registration/schedule record (drops/adds at the beginning of the term, etc).

So find out of the school is accredited, by who, and if they've done a substantative change review or normal review since they've been offering online classes.

Both have their place (4, Insightful)

Monoman (8745) | more than 8 years ago | (#13955549)

Some classes just do not do well online.

* Classes meant for you to present something in front of an audience. (Speech)
* Classes meant for the students to learn to work on a group project like they would in the workplace.
* Classes designed for face to face interaction of the students.

Otherwise it is mostly up to the student. Some people do fine taking classes online. Some people do not.

It depends why you want the degree (1)

AdamBlom (798285) | more than 8 years ago | (#13955563)

If you already have a well rounded resume in terms of relevant work experience and are just looking for a "piece of paper" to compliment it, then an online degree could well be just as valuable as a traditional degree. If you are using a degree as a starting block for your career then I think that an online degree would not hold the same value. If there's plenty of other meat in your resume for a potential employer to look at the source of your degree becomes less of an issue.

Visit a college campus and take a look around! (4, Insightful)

Proudrooster (580120) | more than 8 years ago | (#13955566)

Dude, if I may call you dude. Online schools like the University of Phoenix are great if you already have a great career and are just going after a piece of paper to look good to get that next promotion. However, life is more than have a framed piece of paper hanging on the wall. Life is about socializing, making friends, and sharing ideas. Consider that you may meet someone in a traditional college with whom you will start the next Google. Yes, that's right. The founders of Google attended Stanford together, however I am not sure if they ever posted a story on Slashdot.

You might make friends in different fields that open doors which you never considered. You never know who you will meet and what opportunities will arise from these chance meetings. Additionally, social networking is one of the best ways to find employment. You might do an internship and get hired or find other talented people like yourself and start a company (read the history of Hotmail).

Online learning tends to be very isolated and there is very little chance of meeting interesting people and connecting with them. Online courses are likely filled with people chasing a piece of paper and missing out on a far richer experience. Online learning also decreases the number of females you will meet that aren't from India or China. Please note, I am not biased against Indian or Chineese women, they just statistcally tend to comprise the majority of female computer science graduates. Going to a brick-n-mortar college will land you in a liberal arts class where you might find a date or even future wife. Remember, sometimes the journey is it's own reward :)

Maybe Slashdot could do a longitudal study of your education and career path choices to find out the answer to online vs. traditional schools and lifetime opportunities at the 4-year and 8-year mark. I've been to both type of universities and definately prefer the face-to-face interaction at a traditional school and have found it to be a much richer experience.

Depends... (2, Insightful)

taoboy (118003) | more than 8 years ago | (#13955567)

I used to teach university CS, served as department chair for a year, and have taught 1 (One) online class (graduate, computer security).

The experience left me wanting the interaction that comes in a classroom setting. Discussion posts were stilted, with some simply filling the requirement using regurgitation of the text to get the minimum grade. I am a strong advocate of web-based technology, but teaching a class using it exclusively is a hollow experience to me. I had much better experiences using the web tools to augment "on-ground" classes.

Now, the utility of online programs cannot be ignored. A lot of us spend great amounts of time commuting to and from work, and driving yet another long leg to school a couple of nights can be exhausting. When we lived overseas, online was the only way my wife could continue her degree work. In situations like these, online programs can make going to school possible.

Some schools do a better job of it, too. Actually, I'd give University of Phoenix some consideration WRT online, because they've been doing it for a while and have refined the process more than most. Our school waited a long time to do on-line in order to carefully evaluate tools and techniques.

After all this, I think attending a resident program where a portion of the classes were available online would be the best situation. You'd have the benefit of cohort interaction along with the opportunity to capitalize on the flexibilty of online classes when needed.

i started an online program but am leaving it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13955584)

about six months ago started an online program for a cs degree (i already had a few years of college a few years ago, so i didn't need any general studies). i wasn't interested in using the degree to get a better job, instead i was just interested in the knowledge. i hate dayjobs, can eek out a living with some websites i run and contract work, and am busy with my own nonprofit projects and just wanted to have more skills for doing them. no interest in getting a degree just to get a better job. i just wanted to be better at what i do and be able to do some new things.

i ended up deciding on http://www.accis.edu/ [accis.edu] . they aren't accredited, which didn't bother me, and they were the cheapest i could find where i could also find people who had done their program who were happy with it, and who attested to the fact that it wasn't a degree mill like some of the online places you'll find.

anyways, the program seems fine. it's basically what i expected: it's no different than me making up my own program of books to read and doing the assignments in the books other than with a personality like mine i probably wouldn't get as much done without someone laying out the program of study for me --- but i think that's true of any online program. i have since decided that i'm dropping the program after this one semester and am going to attend a normal university next fall. i realized that the advantage of low cost was totally offset by the fact that, as a non-accredited school, there is no way to get any federal financial aid or federally supported loans (which i wouldn't pay back anyways, so it's like a grant to me). and scholarships are basically out of the question.

i also realized that i did want to attend grad school in-person, not online though a similar program, and that it would be hard or impossible to do that with an online degree from a non-accredited school.

anyways, in the end, i think it's an okay option to do an online program as long as someone knows what they want and it fits the bill. if you do want the degree, the piece of paper that supposedly gets you respect, not just the knowledge, make very sure the online school is accredited. if grad school is something you might want, make sure your online program is accredited and seriously consider not getting your degree online, even if it's accredited, because of the lost experience of the in-person courses that will benefit you when you get to grad school.

Let's see ... $5 a ream, 500 sheets per ream (2, Insightful)

IntelliTubbie (29947) | more than 8 years ago | (#13955587)

. However, are these internet degrees even worth the paper their printed on?

Yeah, probably about that much.

Cheers,
IT

It (somewhat) depends on who you know... (1)

notshannon (704145) | more than 8 years ago | (#13955604)

The names of my classmates who are
VP at a popular (former) web browser outfit,
C?O at a popular not evil web search place,
VP at a possibly evil trading firm
are not printed on my degree; however,
they may be written on some duplicate
bridge score sheets somewhere.

My present position owes to a good word
put in my undergraduate thesis advisor,
years after I finished my bachelor's degree.
I wasn't even particularly searching for a
job at that moment.

These are some of social and economic
benefits of Meatspace U., yes, a
selective one.

A cousin of mine went to a less famous
college and is now running a business
with some of his college classmates.
He also benefits from his network,
and probably makes a bundle more
presidents than I.

Finished my CIS Degree with Regis Online (1)

gabrieltss (64078) | more than 8 years ago | (#13955624)

I just finished my CIS degree with Regis University in May 2005 (Magna Cum Laude). I had previously taken courses on campus with them at their Lowell campus. But when I moved out of Colorado to Nebraska I used their online services to finish my degree. Another guy I work with did his Masters with Regis completely online. I was highly satisfied with their online curriculum. And a Regis degree is HIGHLY regarded from what I have found.

I would highly reccomend you stay away from University of Phoneix. I was with them for a year and was SEVERLY dissapointed. Their instructors were bafoons! (I attended their Colorado school) In one instance an instructor took up a whole class session talking about his theory about what happend to the dinasaurs - this was in a CS class! Another instructor that did my Project Managment class came into class the day the Columbine shootings had happened the instructor came in dressed in black pants, black cowboy boots, black shirt and a black trenchcoat! We all looked at each other like "doesn't this dope know what happened today?!". This school completely screwed up my student aid even. I do not look highly on a degree from this school!

I had a previous boss that got his masters from Websters University. I can't say I have personal knowledge of this online school, but my boss was a class "A" @$$hole! He even admitted cheating by using other peoples papers for his degree and offered to let me use some of his for my degree. I told him thanks but no thanks, I'll get my degree by my OWN work! Needless to say I quit that company!

HTH, this is my 3 drachma's worth of input.

Not a bad choice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13955628)

I originally got my 1st bs degree @ the University of Texas in Austin in molecular biology, but really hated my job as a lab monkey. I got into programming @ a young age and decided, heck, I'll goto work as a programmer. All was going fine and dandy until the upper ranks thought that a degree in CS was the end all, be all. So I started my bs in cs @ Texas Tech (eh, I was living in Lubbock for work after all). I didn't mind the work, but I did mind the way it wrecked my work week since they didn't offer any classes at night. I researched quite a few online schools. Most of what I found at the time were CIS degrees, which really didn't appeal to me. I found Regis University (www.regis.edu) had a full and complete CS program online. True, I only had to take about 30 hours of core CS classes (I had all the math and science classes from my other bs degree), but I found the classes to be really informative and even helped my real-life skills. The classes were 8 weeks long, 1/2 the typical semester. Class sizes are pretty decent 15-30 online students. It wasn't an easy degree by any means, and was actually about the same price in tutition as Texas Tech. My employer didn't care since it was accredited, and it's an actual school so I got to take out student loans / use grants to pay my way. As far as grad school goes, I had to take a few levelling courses, but heck you have to do that for just about any grad degree.
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