By William Jiang, MLS
An Education from the Comfort of Home
Distance education is booming, and it will just get bigger as an industry and a more affordable and convenient option for students. It should democratize and lower the cost of getting a quality education. The dollars are flowing in and the students are enrolling in distance learning for reasons of accessibility, convenience, and generally lower cost. There are many good options for degrees today from associates degrees to MBAs and even PhDs. For degrees in the USA some of the most popular options are Arizona State University, University of Phoenix, DeVry, University of Maryland University College, SUNY Stony Brook Online Classes, Rutgers Online University, and many more. However, just like traditional universities, these options can be very expensive and will, in most cases, require financial aid to be able to attend.
Online University is not for everyone. Online courses take a lot of discipline and self-motivation. Why? You are not in a classroom environment which can keep you in the zone and focused. The dropout rate for many online courses is high, historically. When I took an online course in managerial library science for library chiefs from Rutgers Online, the course started with twenty people; however, only four library managers, including myself, finished the course. At the end, I felt that I had survived. It was a great course, and I learned a lot about branding and nonprofit management, that I would not have been able to do otherwise. The course was led by an expert in management who became a relatively powerful politician. However, there was no way I was able to commute to Rutgers to finish a traditional course like that. So, distance learning was the only option. For me, that time, it worked. However, it was a lot of work, we had lots of reading and assignments, and the final examination was extremely difficult.
Fortunately, there are free and low-cost distance learning options to try out before spending hundreds or thousands of dollars. Get your feet wet and get an idea if you want to take the more expensive distance education route for a degree. Coursera.com is a popular place to start looking for courses. Two lesser-known distance education resources are MIT OCW and Class Central. MIT Open Courseware (https://ocw.mit.edu) is a great place to start learning at one’s own pace, with the exact same books, syllabi, assignments, and tests that the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Students use for their elite brand of education. It is a great free resource. Class Central (https://www.class-central.com) is an easily-searchable database of most of the MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) classes that exist in English. It’s really an amazing resource with literally thousands of courses on every subject you can imagine. So, Coursera is only the tip of the iceberg, there are many more MOOCs. Speaking of icebergs, I hope you find these class resources useful, and cool for the summer.
Note: William Jiang, MLS is the Author of 63 books, including the bestselling books “Guide to Natural Mental Health, 3rd ed” and his critically-acclaimed autobiography “A Schizophrenic Will: A Story of Madness, A Story of Hope”. You can see a selection of his books about mental and physical health nicely laid out on his blog at http://www.mentalhealthbooks.net or check out his Facebook at Mental Health Books.NET