Thanks to advancements in technology, completing an undergraduate or Master’s Degree anytime, anywhere is a reality for students of all ages. Online education is opening up opportunities for a growing market of non-traditional learners.

In fact, the number of non-traditional undergraduate students (over the age of twenty-five) is expanding faster than the traditional student group. But as with anything new and potentially disruptive, skeptics abound. Below are five myths about online learning debunked.

❶ Online courses are easier

Not true! This is one of the biggest misconceptions of online learning. Online courses offered by accredited universities and colleges maintain the same rigor as traditional face-to-face classes. It’s only the delivery method that’s different.

Students access learning materials and connect with classmates via a virtual classroom online. Students study and interact at times convenient for them. It’s this flexibility that makes online education ‘easier’.

❷ Online degrees don’t carry the same respect

Au contraire!  The perception of online degrees is increasingly positive as programs expand and online graduates succeed in the workplace. Employers look for skilled candidates who demonstrate initiative, drive, and self-direction. A job candidate that completes an online degree while working full or part-time demonstrates commitment, drive, and tenacity—exactly the type of skills employers want and need.

"Effective time management is an essential skill for students studying online."

❸ It’s lonely

Not! Online courses offer active learning opportunities that encourage students to communicate and collaborate. Social media platforms are for making learning connections too, not just social ones. Whether working on a group assignment, conducting research, or studying, online learning is far from lonely.

Just like face-to-face learning though, it’s up to the student to reach out, get involved, and make it happen.

❹ You won’t get adequate instructor feedback

Myth! The fact is that online instructors provide at least the same if not more feedback to students in an online course. Instructors aim to provide meaningful feedback to bridge the distance gap. Instructors get to know students through their submitted course work and participation in class discussion forums. It’s a two-way street though.

Students need to make an effort to get involved, show a presence, and reach out to instructors for help and guidance. Instructors are there to help you be successful. Your success is their success! 

❺ There are no deadlines

Another myth! Though there is flexibility to complete coursework around your schedule, there are deadlines for assignments and learning activities just as in a traditional course with a start and end-date. Effective time management is an essential skill for students studying online. There’s little room for procrastination or cramming. Yet, just like any other skill, it’s one that can be developed, practiced and mastered.

Online education offers flexibility, variety, and opportunities for students wanting to pursue a degree, credential, or for personal development and enrichment. Learning is literally at your fingertips, but it’s up to you to make it happen. Go online and learn!

Debbie Morrison is an online learning expert. Check out her blog at Online Learning Insights.