With college tuition continuing to rise with no guarantee for jobs after graduation, some prospective college students might choose alternative paths to education.
Because of the increase in costs, enrolling for a postsecondary education online has become an attractive option — not a last resort.
The virtual classroom experience provides a viable alternative that students can take advantage of to improve their desired skills.
Udemy, a company launched in 2010, provides an online platform that allows anyone to build online courses or to take courses geared toward their topics of interest. Instructors decide how much to charge for their courses, but many courses are free.
The website’s slogan, “Academy of You,” appeals to many students searching for accessible, affordable and personal education. Courses offered range from business topics to how to build a blog from scratch. Many competitive higher education institutions, such as University of Cambridge, Stanford University and UC Berkeley are already setting up classes on Udemy’s website.
Many universities have created their own websites similar to Udemy to provide virtual classroom learning experiences that stretch across academic fields. For example, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology published key presentations from various faculty and guest speakers to MIT World, a university website that provides anyone with access to a free online education.
Participants in these online programs are not the only beneficiaries. By combining classroom experience with a high-quality education from top universities and bringing those components to the Internet, many American colleges have found an innovative way to brand themselves.
Based on a recent study conducted by Google, around three billion people will have access to the Internet in four years. That is nearly 50 percent of the world’s population. There is no reason education should not follow.
But, this new form of teaching — through sharing free videos online, created by anyone -— inevitably raises concerns about its prestige and legitimacy. In the context of the job search process, new college graduates should keep in mind how employers would value and perceive experience from an online learning program instead of a traditional, campus-based, college education.
Free online lectures have specific learning objectives that interest a targeted learning group. These online videos provide engaged learners with the skills recruiters are looking for.
Last week, a Wall Street Journal article “No More Résumés, Say Some Firms,” said that many recruiters have changed their habits. They now read résumés from the bottom up. Compared to their educational background, candidates’ early work experience, hobbies and special skills often provide more insight into how well an applicant would fit into a company’s culture. In fact, many large and mid-sized companies use applicant-tracking systems for résumés to search for the specific skills they desire.
Updated technology hasn’t just changed our daily lives; it has also prompted education reform.
And though online learning programs might not fully supplant traditional on-campus education, in this economic environment, having taken an online class might make all the difference to one’s job prospects.
Emily Wang is a sophomore majoring in business administration. Her column “Business Matters” runs Tuesdays.