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Is now the right time to invest in an online degree?

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The education sector is, if the news media is to be believed, in a state of freefall. Tuition fees are rising across the world, employers are becoming increasingly jaded in their attitudes towards degree qualifications, and the western population is brimming over with unemployed graduates.

It’s leaving Generation Y in tatters, according to the Guardian. Millennials, those born between 1980 and 1994, are finding it difficult to find steady jobs after they’ve graduated, and are finding it even trickier to maintain a decent standard of living.

You might or might not be one of these haphazard millennials wading through the poverty of their twenties. Either way, you most likely view the education industry with a certain degree of suspicion.

But while the educational sector is in a state of crisis, alternatives are emerging to help fill the gap left by failing universities.

The distance alternative

The primary benefactor of stuttering success in universities is distance learning. Once viewed as the awkward uncle to ‘proper’ universities’ responsible parent, distance learning has since graduated to become a vital tool at the forefront of education.

Back in the bad old days, distance learning was about as convenient as a bus service run by the least punctual man in the world. You’d have to scour local libraries for textbooks that might not even be there, fork out for course materials, contact your tutor via snail mail, and record Open University programmes at two in the morning.

They were, understandably, niche affairs. But then the internet arrived to blow a hole in what distance learning could do for students.

Now, gaining an online degree is more convenient and flexible than enrolling with a brick-and-mortar uni.

The modern way

Instead of rooting around musty old libraries, a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) will host all your educational needs. Instead of waiting for a postcard from your tutor, you’ll enjoy regular emails and even Skype conversations with them. And instead of staying up until the wee small hours to catch an educational programme on mathematics, you can study course materials whenever you like.

The end result of all this hard work? A qualification that’s designed for practical use in the workplace and likely to get you a promotion.

So what should you watch out for before you apply for your distance learning degree?

For a start, make sure your course is fully accredited by an official university. Without that, your qualification will barely be worth the paper it’s printed on.

After that, you’re good to go. Who knows – it could be the solution to your millennial woes.

Posted on March 15, 2016.

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