Thursday, August 15, 2013

Adult Education: Using GeorgiaOnmyLine to Raise Your Human Capital

by Vince Rogers

You couldn’t go to college after high school. So you started working. Then you started a family, had kids, and even bought a home. You’ve done okay for yourself, but you believe you could do even better. You try to move up higher in your company, but all of the good jobs require a college degree. You finally come to the conclusion that you have no other choice but to go back to school. Egads! – School at this age?

You envision walking into a crowded classroom and sitting in an uncomfortable desk for hours after a hard day’s work. Even worse is the idea of studying on your weekends off. You struggle to stay awake and try to learn something from this guy standing in the front of the room. Your “professor” is a half interested part-time teacher who took this job for the same reasons you’re going back to school. Now you feel even more out of place when you look around this room full of slackers whose parents are paying their way to attend yet another almost Alma Mater. They’re just hoping that they may someday move out of the basement – the parents that is. The kid could care less.

Fortunately, this is a scene from the olden days. No not the Middle Ages when only the elite were able to go to college. Nor is it a memory from a mere 30 years ago when only a few totally online college courses were first offered. New York Institute of Technology purportedly offered the first "virtual campus" through their American Open University of NYIT in 1984. In 1996 Jones International University lays claim to launching the first regionally accredited fully online university in the United States.

Eventually, online-education would become a serious alternative for many prospective students. This was in large part due to the successful branding strategy of the University of Phoenix. Founded in 1976 as a traditional college for what was then referred to as “non-traditional” students “Phoenix” would ultimately set the standard for on-line education.

The non-traditional student moniker was used to refer to those students who didn’t for various reasons make a direct path to college after high school. Nowadays, according to a 2002 National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) report, “nontraditional students make up 73 percent of all students enrolled in undergraduate programs, and 39 percent of all undergraduate students are 25 years or older.”Delaying college attendance was once thought to be the exception, now it has now become commonplace.

The University of Phoenix was founded by the pioneer of “for profit” education, John Sperling. He believed that "working adult students were often invisible on traditional campuses and treated as second-class citizens.” The University of Phoenix started their online program in 1989. The program became very attractive by providing students from all over the country with the ability to gain a college degree from a “name-brand” recognized academic institution. However, over time the success of “Phoenix” opened the door to institutions that weren’t as reputable as their authentic sounding names might suggest. They offered academic instruction and engaged in financial practices that were not nearly of the same high-caliber.

For many years most traditional colleges and universities saw the online path as a distinctly separate way to earn a college degree. Eventually, many would have a change of philosophy and become responsive to offering the on-line model. They recognized that the internet did not just represent competition for classroom instruction, but opportunity for traditional colleges. It would ultimately be seen as yet another way that students could gain an education in a changing world. Now through such programs as the Harvard Extension School and the CIT (Computer Information Technology) program at the University of Southern California, students young and old, working or unemployed or working toward a first Bachelor’s or PhD. can earn a degree online from the most legitimate providers.

One of the most innovative programs for on-line education exists through the consortium of public colleges and universities located in GeorgiaGeorgiaONmyLINE provides access to “….public higher education, [by] providing you with a database of online and distance education programs offered through the 31 accredited institutions within the University System of Georgia.” TitleTown USA which ESPN named Valdosta, Georgia in 2008.

It is a truly innovative idea that enables the possibility for a young person to gain the credentials to enter the growing healthcare industry by earning an Associates of Science in Nursing at Georgia Perimeter College. On the other end of the spectrum, a busy City Planner could potentially earn a Doctor of Public Administration degree from the prestigious Valdosta State University – the flagship sports powerhouse of
GeorgiaOnmyLine represents some of the most innovative thinking in “higher learning” today. With GeorgiaOnmyLine, there exist no concerns about the quality or accreditation of the school, or the price and affordability of the programs. In most cases the courses are taught by regular instructors and the costs are the same as the on-campus options. Also, rather than individually researching the hundreds of programs offered at the various University System of Georgia schools, GeorgiaOnmyLine serves as a central sources for access to information about all of the on-line programs offered at the various state schools. Students can also use the website to:
  • Research Georgia’s 31 public institutions offering online higher education programs
  • Browse through degree programs and courses, including details such as admissions processes, tuition, technical requirements and credit hours
  • Search for programs at the associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and certificate levels that fit your specific educational and lifestyle-related needs
  • Streamline and simplify the process of finding the right program for you
GeorgiaOnmyLine also provides students who may not be sure if college is right for them with an opportunity to try the coursework out in the comfort of their own home. Older students, working adults, persons with disabilities and others with physical challenges may find the on-line environment more conducive to learning and earning a college degree. While pursuing your Bachelors of Science degree in Education at the University of Georgia, unfortunately you may miss out on watching the “Dawgs” flounce the Florida Gators “between the hedges”. On the other hand, you won’t have to worry about finding your roommates pet iguana in your sock drawer while you earn your Masters in Computer Science degree at Georgia Tech. All things considered, GeorgiaOnmyLine provides students from across Georgia with the opportunity to attend some of the most prestigious universities in the world, while earning some of the most useful college degrees available today.

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