Monitor vs. whiteboard

Written by | October 23, 2012

SANS THE SALT
By Alyck Horton
Online school lacks benefits of traditional education

I find myself walking to a lecture at 10 a.m. It’s raining, my sweatpants are soaked and I don’t give a shit about cellular reproduction right now.

Daniel Johnston/VANGUARD STAFF

I then spend the entire lecture daydreaming about being one of those unemployed moms or girls with drawn-on eyebrows whose “college education” entails sitting in their warm beds taking online quizzes.

We’ve seen the ads on television telling us we should be doing something with our lives, that a college degree will get us a career, money and an ample supply of females to reproduce with.

These ads share key words not normally associated in any way with a traditional university: fun, easy, fast.

Education is an investment, and if you’re going to invest four-plus years and tens of thousands of dollars, shouldn’t you look for quality instead of convenience?

It’s sort of like eating alone and paying double the price for fast food because cooking legitimate meals is too laborious.

Curiosity led me to complete a Business 101 online course through Portland Community College my freshman year. Though I easily earned an A in the class, completed all of the assignments and read the textbook, I still didn’t grasp the concepts as well as people I knew who took the physical class.

In a live class, you’re a part of a discussion with an educated expert. You’re better able to make connections and have questions answered in a dialogue that will give you a deeper understanding of the subject. This isn’t feasible in online platforms such as Desire2Learn.

Now you can simply copy-and-paste your way to a degree. A well-executed Google search will give you enough information to write a paper on just about anything with minimal effort, and if you’re talented with words, that half-assed attempt will still get you a solid grade.

That’s the overall attitude of online school. While some consider it resourceful, I feel it just promotes slothfulness.

Online classes and schools are insufficient compared to the brick-and-mortars, chiefly because students don’t take them seriously.

My first term in college I took two one-credit online classes to bump me up to a full-time credit load. I ended up forgetting I had online classes, and now they’re just W grades on my transcript. And money I’ll never see again.

If a student can sit on her bed and toggle between “learning” math and browsing Tumblr, the focus isn’t going to be where it needs to be. Any lesson is then reduced to just busy work rather than an inclusive activity.

According to Dr. Jonathon Wolf, my former economics professor (who also owns his own business and is an economic advisor to the state of Oregon as well as several Fortune 500 companies), employers are well aware of how easy it is to “earn” an online degree. A lot of the time it’s not even worth putting it on your resume.

Prospective students also don’t consider the actual cost of a degree from an online-only school. Wolf explained to me that something close to 99 percent of online college classes are paid for by financial aid in the form of grants and student loans.

Therefore, the cost of these schools remains out of sight and out of mind until after students either drop out or graduate with a useless degree that cost them twice as much as it would have at a legitimate school.

Above all else, I feel a sort of bitterness toward an institution that allows people to take the easy way out. Without even having to finish high school, these people are simply signing a few forms and becoming university graduates easier and quicker than brick-and-mortar students.

While online schools are a complete waste, having an online fluffer class can be advantageous with a busy work schedule. Still, if you care about your education: Get your lazy ass in a desk and learn something.

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