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Distance Learning Affordability: Does Cheaper Mean Poor-quality Education?

COVID-19 has changed the way we do a lot of things. From our usual hustle-and-grind to the way we entertain ourselves, much of the world has made the transition to the virtual world.

Medical consultations, such as the typical medical checkups or COVID-19 consulting services, occur virtually, thanks to technology. The same can be said for the purchase of goods via online retail shops. Concerts and shows are now taking place on the internet via livestream or teleconferencing apps.

Education is also taking the same route as almost everything else by giving students the option to stay safely at home with online classes and distance learning. But is distance learning worth it?

What are the costs of distance learning?

Just like regular academic programs, the cost of distance learning varies. On average, tuition fees go anywhere between $1200 to $2000 annually. Some programs offer free tuition, but you will still need to pay for enrolment fees, administrative costs, and semester fees. Plus the hardware and software you will need at home if you don’t already have them (laptop computer, tablet, internet connection, etc.).

Is distance learning cheaper than on-campus education?

While there’s only a small difference in tuition fees and other school expenses, online learning has the implicit financial advantage over the traditional system because you save up on housing, transport, and additional costs related to going to school physically. That being said, distance learning is a lot more affordable compared to regular school programs.

Why are some distance learning programs more expensive than others?

Running a school is running a business. And in any business, all the participants will try to outdo their competition. Some schools rely on their reputation and track record to justify asking for higher fees, while others offer relatively lower tuition to attract a greater number of students. Other institutions can demand higher pay, especially if they’re the only ones offering certain courses.

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Why are some distance learning degrees free?

If you search online, you might come across some institutions that offer free tuition. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. A lot of these institutions can afford to make these offers without compromising the quality of education.

The government funds state universities, while private educational institutions thrive because online classes have no limits in terms of attendance. The number of students (anywhere between hundreds to thousands) who pay to have access to the program is more than enough to cover any losses and still get a quality education.

Do cheaper degrees mean low-quality education?

The obvious answer is no. Cheaper rates are not the only things that will determine the quality of education offered by an institution. Accreditation for online education is as relevant and thorough as it is for a traditional school setup. It is best to do your research before you sign up for any courses.

Is online learning as effective as traditional on-site schooling?

Yes, on so many levels. One advantage that online learning has over on-site schooling is that students get to build the habit of doing independent and unsupervised work, which proves helpful in the workplace.

Whatever your reasons are for taking up distance learning, understand that it is an integral part of global education today, especially in light of the present health situation. And as both students and professionals get to enjoy quality education in the comfort of their homes, it seems very likely that distance learning will be around much longer than we think.

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