A online university or community college?

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by jc0481, Jul 13, 2011.

  1. jc0481 macrumors regular

    Mar 16, 2005
    Hello everyone.

    I am torn right now. I am going back to school to get a better job and a better life for my myself, wife and future son. My wife is due at the end of November. My wife is currently a online university student. She is going to Walden University. If I decide to get my education online that is the same university I will be attending as well. Here is the link to the course information that I am interested in:


    I will be going for my Bachelor's if I attend online university. I know some people can't do school online and some can. I'm not sure what I fall into right now.

    My plan for a community college is to graduate from there. Then I will be going to the University of Utah. The one thing I like about going to community college is the social aspect of it and also getting future job connections either from the community college or the university. The one thing I don't like is how long it will take to get my bachelor degree from the university. Six years total from today. Two from community college and four from the university.

    With the online university I will be able to graduate from Walden University in four years with my Bachelor's. But no social aspect with the online university and I'm afraid it won't as look good on my resume as graduating from the University of Utah. Also I will have to explain to future employers what Walden University is.

    I have done some research into Walden University by the way. They are regionally accredited and have some good solid reviews from the students themselves.

    Not sure what route to take at this point. Please help and thank you for reading if you are still reading to the end.
  2. 0007776 Suspended


    Jul 11, 2006
    I'd recommend the community college route for two reasons, the social aspect I think it's better to be able to get to know people at your university. And the second reason is I know I probably couldn't be motivated enough to actually finish college online, you might be able to do it though.
  3. Tomorrow macrumors 604


    Mar 2, 2008
    Always a day away
    I took a single online class in graduate school, and I didn't learn a damn thing. I wonder how employers feel about online degrees?
  4. StvenH90 macrumors regular

    Jun 13, 2011
    I tried online classes in High School, it was hard to stay motived. But it was nice that I could do the classes at my own pace and my own time. If I would actually do it...

    I have to ask why would it take 6 years to get your degree if you went to the actual campus? Would you be going part time or full time?
  5. stonyc macrumors 65816


    Feb 15, 2005
    I'm not sure why it would take you 6 years to get the bachelor's degree going the community college + Utah route... can't you transfer in after your second year? As long as most of your credits transfer, you'll start at Utah as a Junior with only 2 years to go to the bachelor's degree.

    At least that's the way it works around where I'm from... I know of plenty of people who have done 2 years at Washtenaw Community College, and then transferred into Eastern Michigan or the University of Michigan as a junior.
  6. unkn0wnsoldier macrumors regular


    Jul 4, 2009
    Fountain, Co
    I have taken a few online college classes, but mostly on-campus. I'd say that writing based classes are ok to take online since those are basically all about researching topics and essays. However, I would not recommend taking any math or science courses online if you can avoid it.
  7. reputationZed macrumors 65816

    Mar 9, 2011
    34°55′42″N 80°44′41″W (34.
    I've done both, each has some strengths a weaknesses. Online is convenient but is better suited to "getting the piece of paper" than it is getting a good education. My situation is I already have a job, and for the most part I already have the experience and knowledge, but I still need a 'degree' to move to the next level of my career. Since you're thinking of changing careers an education (with a degree) is probably more valuable than just a degree.

    Another down side of online education is that most of the online universities (UoP, Capella, etc) are for profit institutions, meaning they tend to be fairly expensive. My tuition at Capella University is about twice what I'd pay to go to UNC (granted I would be getting a brake for being a NC resident).

    On the plus side for online schools is the workload is fairly light as long as you don't mind writing. I think I've only taken about one test while pursuing a bachelors degree but have written somewhere around 150 papers or so.
  8. jc0481 thread starter macrumors regular

    Mar 16, 2005
    Hmm. I may be wrong about having to graduate from the community college and then transferring to the University of Utah. See I thought I would have to do two years full time to get my Associate degree at the community college and then after I graduate apply to the University of Utah. That's why I thought 6 years to get a Bachelor degree.

    I'm still torn not sure what to do. I do like the prospect of job opportunities either from fellow students or professors. I can't work my warehouse job all my life.
  9. StvenH90 macrumors regular

    Jun 13, 2011
    I am going the Community College, then State College like many others. If all goes as plain, I should have my Masters in 6 years...
  10. smithrh, Jul 13, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2011

    smithrh macrumors 68020


    Feb 28, 2009
    I hate to be this blunt, but it has to be said - on-line degrees are next to worthless. I'd say "scam" but it's a half-step above scam in that it's not actually illegal - but that's as far as I'll go.

    As a hiring manager, all an on-line degree tells me is that you spent money and the school took it. Worse yet, you probably went into student loan debt.

    That's it.

    Community college is a huge step up from on-line and I encourage you greatly to go in that direction. Next step up from that is any accredited 4-year college, then there's a whole spectrum of colleges and universities up to your Harvards, Yales, Stanfords and Oxfords.

    Any resume I see that has an on-line college on it goes into the bin.

    For-profit education is a blight on our times. I fully expect it to be gone in 5, maybe 10 years - just like the 25-year-old CEOs of dot-bomb companies after the Y2K bubble popped.

    Plus, school is not just learning, but the environment itself. Don't cheat yourself of that.
  11. StvenH90 macrumors regular

    Jun 13, 2011
    Some Community and State Colleges, have online education... I would take that route before an all-online school.
  12. smithrh, Jul 13, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2011

    smithrh macrumors 68020


    Feb 28, 2009
    Before you begin, see if Utah will take the credits from that particular CC. It's likely that they will, but check first. You don't want to assume anything here. They may allow some courses to transfer, but not others.

    So, after you finish your associate's degree, you'll be at the rough equivalent to a junior at Utah, you can finish there and never even tell people you went to CC if you don't want to.

    You write fairly well, I think you'll do fine. I know there's been some (silly) talk about how education may not be paying off the way it has historically, but it always will. You'll be better equipped to handle a range of issues, and more importantly, you'll have learned how to learn.

    As long as neither the CC or Utah charges an arm or a leg for tuition, I see no downside for you. Yes, there's sacrifice involved but there's payback too.

    Edit: many employers look on working towards a degree or having real college experience as almost as good as having a degree. This may enable you to upgrade your job while in school. But getting the degree is still the goal.
  13. palpatine macrumors 68040

    May 3, 2011
    i have taken courses online. it is a different kind of experience, and frankly, even though it is well-done, nothing compares to physical "real" interactions with people, discussions, meeting with professors face-to-face, going to a library and conducting research on a topic, establishing connections with people, etc. traditional liberal arts universities are geared more towards intellectual exploration to enrich your life and society, rather than training you for any particular job. that works for some people, and doesn't for others.

    my advice would be to do what is best for your situation. if you are passionate about learning and the pursuit of knowledge, i'd recommend a more conventional university. if you are doing this to increase your earnings potential, i'd recommend online, because it gives you the education you need to justify raises/hiring without sacrificing time with your family and time with work.
  14. DWBurke811 macrumors 6502a

    Jun 10, 2011
    Boca Raton, FL
    A online degree is worth less than the paper and ink used to print it, and with how many they pump out you know they're getting a bulk discount. Add to that the crazy price they charge, a BA/BS from UoP is around $60000 in tuition alone, you're shooting yourself in both feet.
  15. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    Things may be different in British Columbia (Canada) than in the States, so take this with a grain of foreign salt.

    BC accredited Thompson Rivers University to provide distance education. They offer their own courses - as a provincially accredited institution, and the also offer other highly respected BC university's courses. So when people say that on-line degrees aren't respected they are generalizing a bit. So - first of all, make sure that the on-line institution you may go to is in fact respected. If you have a friend who is in HR, check with with them.

    There may be worthless on-line degrees, but there are worthless campus degrees too.

    My wife loves distance ed. She loves being being able to study when she wants, to balance the classes and work to suit her needs. To schedule exams when it's convenient for her. She is highly self-motivated, and she could and did handle a full course load, plus work almost full time for bit. Then she went to part-time work hours and handled more than a full course load in order to graduate sooner (so she could get into a Master's program - that was no offered by distance ed.).

    As for me.... I would have flunked out of distance ed. so fast.... :D I liked going to classes. I liked the social aspect. I liked having the "what if" discussions with fellow students. I'm not as self-motivated as my wife... I like lots of little deadlines. I like listening to lectures, as opposed to reading (though I know some distance ed. courses are based on audio clips).

    So, it basically boils down to your learning style. And only you know that. If both the campus and distance ed. institutions are comparable in respectability, then really it's a learning style thing. Keep in mind that with distance ed. course you can a degree from almost anywhere. So don't limit yourself to just local providers.

    Good Luck.
  16. reputationZed macrumors 65816

    Mar 9, 2011
    34°55′42″N 80°44′41″W (34.
    one of the most disappointing aspects of online universities for me has been their complete failure to take advantage of technology. With both schools I have attended the course work consists of logging onto a forum, down loading a PDF, responding to one or two posts a week, and submitting a writing assignment. Every once in a while they will through in a PowerPoint or Flash video to prove how cutting edge they are. When I first started I'd imaging that online education would be a showcase for technologies like streaming lectures, interactive video tutorials, IM, and Twitter, but no joy there. Tech for these schools means you need a copy of MS Office, Adobe Reader, and a web browser.

    On the positive side is most of the instructors have been pretty good, they also tend to be part timers rather than tenured professors so the education tends to be more real world than academic. Unfortunately they are pretty constrained by there curriculums.
  17. br.avery, Jul 13, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2011

    br.avery macrumors regular

    Dec 1, 2008
    I did two years at my community college in Texas, moved to Canada and didn't want to pay international tuition so I enrolled at Arizona State University. They offer bachelor and master degrees online and the good thing is that the degree/diploma you receive isn't any different from the ones that you receive if you actually earned your degree by going to campus. I agree with others that say online degrees from FOR PROFIT schools are worthless but if you do your research and have common sense, you can find a good school that offers an online degree. Arizona State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission so you're safe. A lot of well known and respected universities are starting to offer full online degrees, Drexel, PennState, UMass are some of the few. Times are a changinnn' :p

    Oh, and another great thing about ASU is that the semesters are 7 weeks long as opposed to 15 weeks so you finish your degree a lot faster.
  18. codymac macrumors 6502

    Jun 12, 2009
    As another hiring manager, I have to agree.

    I don't put much emphasis on educational background when I'm hiring though. The most talented people I work with either have no degree or a degree in a completely unrelated field.

    Go to a community college as long as possible to keep costs in check and transfer to the local university to finish up and get your bachelor's degree.

    My .02
  19. chrono1081 macrumors 604


    Jan 26, 2008
    Isla Nublar
    As someone who has been to a community college (South Hills Business School), a regular college (Pennsylvania State University), and an online college (DeVry, but its not 100% online, they have physical campuses too). I'll give you the insight on each:

    First, let me say the advice below is subject to change based on your degree requirements.

    Second, make sure ANY school you choose is fully accredited.

    Now, a community college (at least the one I went to) tends to feel like high school. They often offer 2 year degree programs and should be used more as a stepping stone rather than a final destination. A popular thing to do is get as many pre-requisites out of the way at a community college as you can (due to cost) and then transfer the credits to a bigger college. The classes you take in them usually will count towards math, english, art, and computer credits in a larger college. Do not expect anything directly degree related (such as in my case, computer programming) to transfer to your main colleges degree program.

    Sometimes community colleges will move at a slow pace since many "adult learners" are present and some may not have basic computer skills and such and could potentially slow class down. This happened to me where I went in our programming classes. I spent a year at the community college listed above only to find out the school lied about their accredidation (literally, in which I immediately dropped out and went on to join the military.)

    Next comes regular college:

    A regular college is good, but time consuming due to having to work your
    work schedule around class schedule. Also, just like the community college your class may be held up due to slower students, it happened to me in a C++ class.

    Regular college has its good and bad points. There is the social aspect of school but that is a double edged sword for some people. When I went there I was above my peers due to previous experience in the fields of study I was in and I felt like I was being dragged down by class. Group work was often frustrating and working full time, as well as going to school full time can take its toll. If you work full time, or have a busy schedule really think long and hard before you decide to attend a traditional college.

    Some of the good things about a traditional college is being able to ask the professor things one on one instantly, without having to wait for a response. Traditional college, like community colleges will tend to hand hold you more when it comes to assignments and is a good choice for people who have a hard time with self-motivation and school work.

    That being said if you have a full time job or a busy schedule think long and hard about a traditional college first. Not to mention most traditional colleges have online options, I know Penn State does, as do many others. Even Harvard. I spent two years at Penn State but left because I felt the degree program I was in was going to slow, and also because I took a job working overseas and obviously could not attend class. A few of my classes were not available using Penn States World Campus (their online classes) so I was unable to complete my degree at Penn State.

    That brings me to my last point, online schools. Also, let me say that my online school is also a regular school, a strictly online school may be a bit different.

    Online schools are a different animal, and most people do not understand how online school really works (as apparent in this thread). What I am about to say may not hold true for every school, but it holds true for many of them, not just mine (as I have co-workers who attend different online schools and have a class schedule similar to mine).

    Online schools generally are NOT learn at your own pace. Sure, there is no set class time but often there are very strict deadlines to accomplish things. The school I go to has a deadline of wednesday for class participation and each week work, LOTS of work, is due.

    Online schools are usually a ton more work then a regular campus. Not only do you have to do a great amount of research, but if you run into a problem with an assignment you may not be able to get an instant response. This forces you to budget time very wisely and use every available resource to get your work done, and there is generally a ton of work. I spend right now between 60 - 100 hours a week on school work. I've never spent less that 30 hours on school work. (The only reason I'm on mac rumors is because my lighting for my game level is baking so I can't do much until its done). Last semester I in one week between two classes I had to read 550 pages, write two papers, do two quizzes, a powerpoint presentation, and write a framework for a game engine using C++, OpenGL, and SDL. Thats a ton of work for one week.

    Online schools require a ton of self motivation. Do not expect hand holding on an online school. You are generally given the material, the assignments, and told to get it done by a deadline. You will do a lot of work, you will be frustrated, you will have a ton of reading, and a ton of work to do each week. Its hard.

    Your peers will most likely be idiots. Yep. Idiots. Its sad but true. Many people jump into online school and they shouldn't. Think of an online school as just being there to give you a piece of paper, and you are responsible for most of your own learning and practice. In my classes I am often the only person who knows what they are really doing and I end up doing almost all of the work. Unfortunately no matter how much I beg the professors to work solo, the answer is always a no. According to the experiences of my co-workers and friends who go online though I am the only one who is running into this issue so it may not affect you at all.

    Online schools are not "easy to cheat on". If your online school is halfway descent most of your work will be project based. Sure there may be a test here and there but expect the answers to be engineered in such a way that google and open notes and open books will not help you. (If you don't know the material you will not find it before the test is up.)Not to mention most quiz questions tend to be essays. Also most work is project based to prevent cheating, and as any other school, cheaters are generally expelled. Also, expect the projects to be pretty big. (Right now I have to make a full level of a networked game in 8 weeks. Anyone in the programming forum can tell you thats an insane amount of work. )

    Expect a ton of reading for an online school. Between two classes I usually have about 350 - 400 pages of reading per week, sometimes it goes well over that.

    Like I said, its not just my school that operates like this, me and my co-workers all run into the exact same scenarios. Online school is hard and its a ton of work. Its not for everyone. The only reason I would recommend online school is if:

    1. The school has campuses in addition to online and you can switch between the two anytime. Also most professors for online school teach at regular universities, make sure your school does that too.

    2. You already know what you are doing for the most part and plan on going to school for the piece of paper.

    3. You are entering a field where you can show a portfolio of your work since some people who don't know a thing about online school think its this horrid thing and anyone coming out of it is uneducated. Sure its true some students aren't the brightest (just like any school), but there are many who are already professionals or are very driven and just need that degree and can't give up our jobs to go to a traditional school.

    4. You are VERY self motivated and resourceful. If you need a professor to make you learn, online is not for you. I've been going online for 4 years, working a full time job in the IT field the whole time.

    Out of all the schools, I prefer online school the most. Its hellish, it really is but I like to be able to do my classwork, and then augment my learning with a ton of self study. I also love to study quietly, in the middle of the night which I couldn't do at a regular campus.

    Anyway, I hope that cleared up some stuff for you.

    No offense but thats a terrible way to hire. You probably tossed a lot of great talent away because you judged someone based on where they went to school. I know many people who have degrees from so-called "great schools" but are just terrible work ethic and knowledge wise, and I also know some brilliant people who are great in the IT field who make 6 figures a year and have only a high school diploma (one only has a GED).

    Just remember many people have no other choice but to go online because they have a full time career that they are juggling in addition to going to school. Thats a lot of work and it takes a lot of dedication to do something like that.
  20. stonyc macrumors 65816


    Feb 15, 2005
    This is what I would do:

    First, figure out what you are interested in majoring in at Utah.

    Next, imagine yourself -starting- as a Freshman at Utah... what kind of classes would you be taking your first semester? Your second semester? Repeat this for your sophomore year. You now have a list of classes that you should probably take in order to complete a Bachelor's at Utah.

    Next, take that list of classes and find out how many are offered at the CC. Integrate this with what you need for the Associates degree at the CC.

    Next, figure out how many of these classes will transfer to Utah. This can be done by asking academic advisors at the CC (many will be experienced with what you are trying to do). E-mail the department head, or the department coordinator of your desired major at Utah. Figure out where the CC advisors were wrong, or mis-informed... can happen, major requirements can change from time to time.

    Now, take the required classes for your Associates degree at the CC. Hopefully, most will transfer. If some won't (and that is most likely to be the case), try to supplement your CC course load with other elective or cognate courses that -will- transfer. For example, a lot of liberal arts colleges and majors will require classes in writing, history, social science or whatever that don't necessarily fall within the major proper. Try to take some of those outside-the-major-but-still-required-for-graduation classes at the CC... that way, when you do go to Utah, you can focus on classes in your major.

    I'm sure many people before you have done this, so you just need to talk to the right people. If all goes well, you might only have to re-take a couple classes at Utah but should still be on track to graduate with your Bachelors degree within two years of when your transfer in to Utah. I have close friends who have done two years at CC either because they couldn't get in to the University they wanted, or it was too expensive, and then gone on to finish their Bachelors in four years. So yes, it can be done... find the right people to ask these questions, and you'll get a lot of helpful information to help you on your way.
  21. Young Spade macrumors 68020

    Mar 31, 2011
    Tallahassee, Florida
    I'd do CC then a University. Personally I don't learn as well if I don't have a teacher up front, actually teaching me and showing me what's going on. With business, I would also think it would be important to actually SEE real presentations and representations of what you want to do.

    I think it obviously varies of importance based on your major; biology and sciences (aside from labs) can be completely learned at home; writing courses also don't really NEED to be taught in the classroom.

    I would think business is a mix of hands on and bookwork, hence my preference to being at an actual school.
  22. einmusiker macrumors 68030


    Apr 26, 2010
    Location: Location:
    As much as i am against online degrees personally, you happen to be wrong. University of phoenix is becoming more and more of an accepted route for service professionals such as nursing etc.
  23. ShamrockSolace macrumors member

    Dec 4, 2010
    Another idea is find your Final Objective. What University do you want your degree from? Find what community college they accept class credits from. Take the main courses at the community college at the lower hourly rate. Then transfer to that University for the specialization. You can get the same Diploma but at a lower cost. Being with people is part of the education process at college.
  24. Eldiablojoe macrumors 6502a


    Dec 4, 2009
    West Koast
    This is an excellent post. The person you are looking for at the 4-year for advice is going to have a title like "Articulation Specialist" and probably works in the Student Services building with the Degree Audit folks. They specialize in analyzing transfer credits by comparing syllabi and course catalogs. Many already have a published Articulation Agreement with various community colleges that will tell you (or them if it isn't publicly available) that Anyname Community College's English 4B is a direct equivalency and transferable credit for Super Football University's English 286 etc. I highly recommend you follow the above poster's advice. You will have to make a bunch of calls, leave some emails, and do some follow up until you find the right person with the right information, but it is out there. The time and effort you put into this will save you considerable amounts of otherwise wasted time (taking non-transferable classes), etc.
  25. jc0481 thread starter macrumors regular

    Mar 16, 2005
    I'm really impressed with all the good replies I have received. I am leaning more towards a online degree. I will you tell you why. My wife and I are expecting our firstborn. It's a boy! He is due in November. I don't want to leave my wife at night while I am at school and I won't be home until 9:30 at night. When she gets back to work. Yes I know. Since I don't make enough money to support the both of us. I wish I did. She has to work. Fortunately it's a daycare and she does get a discount for being a employee there.

    Also my wife currently is a online university student. So she has to manage being a new mother, school and full time work. I think she will be burned out pretty quickly. I am not sure on how new fathers handle school.

    Another thing pushing me towards the online degree route is the 25% discount. I will be attending the same school that my wife goes to. If I go that route. I am eligible to receive a 25% discount on my tuition.

    Yes I have checked the online university is regionally accredited. I also checked with the community college. A LOT of students first go with a community college and then to a 4 year traditional university because it is cheaper.

    I do like the social aspect of meeting face to face with fellow students and professors. I also like the job prospect it opens up. I would really like a job in a computer field if I knew somebody that I met at community college or the university. I would really like not working warehouse jobs in a few years. It doesn't pay that much anyways.

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