1. No commute. When it comes down to it there are only a handful of elite universities across the country and unless you happen to live in the same state as one, you are looking at a fairly big undertaking when it comes to relocating. With the recent increase of on-line colleges and the varied degrees they offer, many students are turning to distance learning. One of the biggest benefits of attending an online college vs a traditional big name college is in the length, or lack there of, in your commute. Usually no further then from your kitchen, where you were making a sandwich, to your computer where you work.
This one small benefit can quickly add up to a major convenience as it encompasses other small perks as well. Over the course of two, three or four years of college the time you save from not driving to class can be spent studying or finishing up homework. The money saved from gas over the course of a few years add up, or if you're like me and work close to home, you can forgo a car all together and really put some money away. All this money saved would be a nice treat for students attending an elite university where yearly tuition is between 35k-40k per school year.
2. Class anytime you want. Keeping with the online theme here, another major benefit you can expect from a distance learning program is the freedom and flexibility to take as long as you need to finish your degree, and attend class whenever you have the time. At a traditional college, especially a top tier university, you have a very limited amount of time to complete the necessary requirements for graduation. No elite college will want its students taking courses with a five of six year degree as their goal. If you wanted to study a foreign language at Yale, you would need to squeeze it along with the major program curriculum.
If you purse a degree online you can study Japanese at three in the morning if you so choose. You could devote two full years of your life to the language and really master it if that's something you would like to do. These are things you could absolutely not do at a traditional college. Some sources even suggest that studying certain subjects at an elite college is frowned upon, as they do not receive the same "high quality" polish that major areas of study do.
3. Are you already an expert in something else? Let's say growing up you always had a strong desire to build bridges, become a lumberjack, or take apart and rebuild a car. You may be naturally gifted at any one of these, and could easily turn them into a rewarding and satisfying career. Why then would you commit yourself to a program that revolves around a strict course load with rigid time requirements, all to listen to some one else recite you poetry from the 18th century. What others may deem a valuable skill set, or pertinent in today's society may not be inline with your own point of views.
If you want to work on Chevy's for the rest of your life, who is to say you need to learn Shakespeare. Traditional and elite colleges may offer a variety of degrees but once committed to a major, you are pretty much locked down to the courses available to you. A handful of electives is not the same as choosing classes that you are actually interested in. By participating in a distance learning program you have the option to change your focus of study whenever you like, and really purse classes of interest. Since the average cost is much lower for online colleges, you could in theory take one class a semester, work full time at the job of your dreams, and graduate whenever you feel satisfied with what you have gained.
4. Rich and Famous. Ranked the richest man in the world in 1995, Bill Gates is a 52 year old billionaire who was once enrolled at Harvard University, a popular name in elite colleges. Two years after he started Gates dropped out of Harvard and went on to start a little company you may have heard of, Microsoft. Many of today's famous movie stars, and television actors did not spend a small fortune on elite schooling to get where they are today. A plethora of famous professional athletes have attended local colleges, some not even attending college at all. This doesn't leave many who spent their four years of higher education at an elite college.
Now while these people are the exception instead of the rule it does illustrate some good points. One, no matter how good a school people believe elite colleges to be, there is nothing you can be taught there that can not be taught elsewhere, as well or better. Secondly, self teachings through life experience and strong personal motivation can be key when you set out to start or change your career. Whether it be a community college, receiving an online degree, or being home schooled, a good teacher is what really matters and they can be found in all aspects of life.
5. Career VS Family. Before deciding whether or not you want to make the commitment to attend an elite college, think about what your goals in life really are. If you want to go on trying to land the corner office and run a high profile company, by all means spend the time in school learning everything you can about the business of your choose. If you want to have a family and put the time in to actually raising your children, you may want to reconsider dropping the large amount of time and money required to attend an elite college.
A survey of female students from Yale revealed that roughly 60 percent said that "when they had children, they planned to cut back on work or stop working entirely." Of those women, about half said they planned to" work part time, or stop work for at least a few years." This is something to keep in mind if you have conflicting interests when it comes to your future. A smaller commitment to higher education may be what you are looking for, one attainable through community or online colleges.
6. Strong state colleges. Lets say all the talk of online degrees just isn't your thing, you still wish to attend a high profile, traditional school. Well first thing you should do is check the statues of your local state college. Many state universities have very strong degree programs, coupled with an excellent heritage that holds up against an elite college around today. Everything you could find academic wise at an elite college can be had at many state universities. From a well known sports program to challenging academic studies, schools like West Virginia, Ohio State, and John Hopkins all rate very high in national college score cards.
The upside to these schools is for one the reduced price, WVU which is a nationally recognized school in sports and academics has an annual cost of 26k per year for out of state students. Yale on the other hand rounds out to 43k per year for an in state student. Another great benefit to attending a state college is that you can actually get in. All three of the top Ivy league schools, Yale, Harvard, and Princeton, ranked in the top 5 of Lowest Acceptance Rate for 2007. Some may want to attend a college where everyone is hand picked, and ends up being basically the same, but I'll take the social diversity of a state college any day.
7. Can you career really benefit? As you ponder over what your future may hold, and what your going to do about all the options for higher education, take into account where your desired career path will eventually lead you. If you plan on becoming a surgeon of some sort, or you plan on going to work for NASA, then yes you will need some extensive training, and a solid understanding of the subject matter. The large amount of time and money needed to reach these positions is normally thought of as acceptable since the salary for such jobs is so high.
But what if you plan on being a social worker or a Kindergarten teacher, how much money are you willing to spend on your training and education that is not recoupable. If you plan on getting into a career that has a proven low to mid level salary you may want to save as much as you can when choosing you college. The 80,000k or more that can be saved by receiving a comparable degree online versus going to an elite college for the exact same thing can really add up, especially when you are starting a new career. Really take time to weigh the options when deciding what will and will not have a positive effect your career.
8. Smart enough for Harvard, smart enough to be rich. When you hear about the Ivy league schools you normally come across success stories and amazing charts that show how much their students earn after graduation. What they fail to tell you is that the average acceptance rate for these schools is about 9%, and since they only admit the best of the best, it is pretty much guaranteed those students will go on to be successful. A student who is a chemistry genius, amazing athlete, or wiz at math is going to make allot of money regardless of if they attend Harvard or the local state university.
Having a great deal of knowledge taught to you by some one else is no replacement for first hand experience and natural wisdom. If you know what you want to do with your life, and you are smart enough to forge your own way there, what point is there in attending a school just to say you went there? Save you money and your time, if you feel you need a degree there are many more time efficient ways then moving to a new state, spending a small fortune, and having some one else tell you what to study.
9. Less women accepted. Bad news for you if you happen to be a women considering an elite university. Since the top three ivy league schools are admitting fewer students every year, they want to keep their male to female population consistent. You may have read that in the past few years more females have been accepted then male students, and while this may be true it means for the next few years they will have to take in less females to keep the numbers even. If only 9% of all applicants are accepted to a certain school, and they are looking for less females then in previous years, your chances have just dropped another notch.
Since committing yourself to a university is a serious undertaking, you may not be keen on your acceptance hinging on your sex. After deciding what you would like to major in, and what sort of programs you are interested in pursing, check you local and online colleges too see if they don't offer a very comparable package, one that has no bias on having to many men or women in class.
10. You don't test well. You may be a very bright person who works hard and turns in all projects on time, you may even be head of the student council, but if you are like many students in America and don't do well when it comes to testing, your chances of getting into an elite college can go right out the window. Many of the top tier universities say that there is more to gaining admission then just test scores, but lets face it no one is going to be admitted to Yale with a 900 SAT score. This year alone of all those who applied to elite colleges an average of 35% where out right rejected.
One of the problems with standardized testing is that you need to comply to a set time and place, and finish the test in a pre-determined amount of time. Some people obviously learn at a different pace then others, and couple that by the fact that not all teachers and students have the correct understanding of what the other is trying to accomplish. By taking classes online you have the added benefit of being able to review most of the class material as often as necessary until you feel comfortable enough to take the corresponding test. A welcome relief to those who have a busy enough life as it is.
11. Work for your debt. As prices for tuition continue to grow every year across all aspects of higher education, many people are spending a sizeable chunk of their working career just paying back their school loans. The average debt amount for some of the more outrageously priced degree programs would be medical students, which is around 100,000k total and law students who come in around 75,000k. The average total for four years of Yale is well over 150,000k and you are looking at a 10 year pay back plan at over $1,250 per month.
Taking into consideration you are going to be starting at an entry level position, a ten year payment plan may not be workable for you. You can extend the payment table on your loan, but you are sure to incur interest which just adds to the total time spent in debt. When comparing all those numbers to the average for a state university which can get most students through four years for about 50k-60k, and you may start to see the benefits of a cost efficient college education.
12. Tuition raises as perceived desirability. Every year it seems the cost of a college education goes up and up, and no where is this more evident then in the ivy league where the top three players all strive to keep up with one another. While many companies try to keep costs low,colleges operate on a very different model. There actually an incentive to spend money, to help make the school seem more appealing to the incoming class. Since there is very little pressure on private schools to keep their costs in check, they can continue to raise the prices while at the same time excepting fewer students every year.
This trend has been going on for fifty years, where the rise in college tuition has exceeded the national inflation rate, and there doesn't' seem to be any change in the immediate future. Unfortunately this has a trickle down effect as well. As the top tier schools continue to raise their costs so do the colleges directly under them, then the next in line raise their costs, and so on. Since many people perceive that expensive equals better, students still apply to these schools regardless of the cost.
13. Forward thinking business seeks like minded people. As business as a whole has become a more online based entity then ever, companies are looking for people who can apply a fresh new look to the way things get done. Gone are the days of our grandparents business, where things got done for the reason of "that's just how we do them here". Today's business needs people who can think outside of the box and aren't afraid to adapt new ideas. A person who has excelled in a higher education program from an online college is some one who was able to adapt and use technology to get things done that may not have been possible otherwise.
An online degree also shows great personal perseverance, as you are totally in control of your of academic destiny. With no one to tell when to attend your classes, or when or how to study, a graduate from an online college has proven to be an independent forward thinker. As technology continues to make advances in the workplace, no business is going to be looking for the run of the mill new-hire with the same skill set as the previous dozen. People who excel due to personal dedication will trump those who meet all the basic requirements every time.
14. Sports. If you are really into sports, whether fan or athlete, and you want to spend a considerable amount of your college career pursuing them, you may want to take a look at how well elite college programs stack up to a good state college. Not to say elite universities don't offer a solid sports program, but when compared to a college like PSU or Florida they just don't stand up. A big reason being is that these type of elite schools do not attract the best athletes from around the country, or the best coaches for that matter. An athlete wants to go to a college where they will have a strong backing and good appreciation for the sport of their choosing.
Elite schools rarely rank in the top ten for any given sport at any given year. As far as college football goes, arguably the biggest college sport there is, it is a vary rare for an elite school to be invited to a bowl game or national championship, and even more of a rarity for them to win. If you are already a star athlete in high school you more then likely have every good school in the country banging on your door. Take a good look at their history before you let offers and 'gifts' sway your decision.
15. You don't always get a say. When you attend a traditional class in high school or college, you may not always get the opportunity to share your opinion on the subject matter at hand. This can be charged to a number of things, including a the lack of time, since most classes last 45min to an hour, or that it usually seems the most talkative people are the ones who always spit out there piece before everyone else. Attending a big name college may be even more of a detriment to your learning style if you are a withheld, or shy individual.
If you choose to take courses online you have the chance to say your piece regardless of how many other people before you spoken, or how ever long it takes you to formulate a response you're comfortable with. You may find a great diversity of opinion by attending online classes, more so then any 200 student lecture hall, or structured time math class could afford you. Nothing fosters a real learning experience like a wealth of different opinions.