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Online Graduate Programs: Top Three Things Student Forget to Evaluate

Posted October 18, 2015 12:00 AM by Purdue_MSE_Online

The decision to return to graduate school is a big one. The choice to do so while working full-time is an even more daunting. The number of colleges and universities offering online courses has grown exponentially, and the investment in making traditional graduate programs accessible online is only expected to rise.

Prospective online students should weigh three major things when considering a program.

Instructor Accessibility

Students should research who teaches the online courses. Tenured faculty? Adjunct professors? Are the instructors available for questions by phone? Email? Skype? At Purdue, faculty open specific office hours just for the students in the online sections of their courses. Most online courses also have chat options or forums for current students to connect and discuss material.

Program Flexibility

The ability to learn from any location at any time is increasingly enticing to students who want to learn on their own time and enter a graduate program without sacrificing their career.

Often a work or life circumstance occurs that requires a student to take time off for a semester and prospective students should research the possibility of this with any program they are considering. Students should also be sure to note if a program has any campus residency requirement at any point in their online program.

Student Services

In any graduate program, it's important to know the services available as a student. When looking into an online program, be sure to ask what on-campus services will also be provided as a distance student? Will there be access to the professional practice office? Disability resource center? Writing lab?

Purdue strives to make the student service access for on-campus and online experience as similar as possible in all of these ways.

Editor's note: This is a sponsored blog post by Purdue Engineering. Purdue delivers six different graduate engineering degrees entirely online. These online graduate degrees are consistently ranked in the top 10 by U.S. News and World Report. Purdue offers more than 74 online courses each year and is one of the largest providers of distance graduate engineering degrees.

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#1

Re: Online Graduate Programs: Top Three Things Student Forget to Evaluate

10/18/2015 11:25 AM

The one above and beyond everything else thing they should be evaluating is

'Will this time and money spent actually get me prepared for a job to the level that an employer will actually find me to have been worth hiring?'.

If not then what is the point of spending the time and money to get a degree even though you still have near zero workable skills and knowledge for the types of jobs you would be seeking with the diploma?

Some years ago I went back to college a second time in order to get an Electrical Engineering degree. I spent 4 years and a pile of money to come out the other end feeling dumber for having went. I gained near zero additional skills or knowledge about EE than I went in with.

Sure I had loads of classes and education while there but so little of it related to any practical part of Electrical Engineering it was pitiful.

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Re: Online Graduate Programs: Top Three Things Student Forget to Evaluate

10/18/2015 1:25 PM

Online courses is not for every course. There are only a limited amount of courses that can be taught online. And even then, I feel (from experience) the education is not as robust.

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Re: Online Graduate Programs: Top Three Things Student Forget to Evaluate

10/18/2015 3:55 PM

Well my experience of 7 semesters of a 8 - 9 semester electrical engineering program gave me 4 arts, 3 history, 3 geology, 3 math, 1 downhill skiing, 1 Canoeing, 2 chemistry, 2 physics, 3 english, 1 public speaking, 1 methods of manufacturing lab, 1 statistical analysis, 1 Java computer programing, 2 CAD drafting and I think a few other things that had little to no practical relation to Electrical Engineering.

All for the low low investment of $30K+ and 3.5 years of my life.

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Re: Online Graduate Programs: Top Three Things Student Forget to Evaluate

10/18/2015 5:17 PM

My online classes was ethics, world culture, and something else that I can't remember.

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Re: Online Graduate Programs: Top Three Things Student Forget to Evaluate

10/18/2015 10:47 PM

Should an engineering course without practical work be accepted.IEE(UK) exempted BSc Graduates in physics from coursework,workshop practice,engineering drawing etc in 1967 & those who passed the exams became engineers?????. In other developed countries do they do similar irrational things.

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Re: Online Graduate Programs: Top Three Things Student Forget to Evaluate

10/19/2015 8:00 AM

Engineering fundamentals as well as core engineering classes, No.

There are things that you have to have class participation in.

General Education classes, maybe. But as far as I'm concerned, you need to be very disciplined.

As far as online engineering courses... There was one a few years ago that I looked into, but could not see the value in it called Kennedy-Western, aka Warren University. And I was correct.

Unfortunately there were a few that saw it as an easy way to obtain an engineering degree. As it turned out, those same people want to blame others for their own foolishness that shelled out money for these diploma mills.

Again, I myself, would be pretty selective on what I get online. But then again, I take responsibility for my own actions.

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Re: Online Graduate Programs: Top Three Things Student Forget to Evaluate

10/19/2015 10:42 AM

That is the way it is with most any engineering degree - what you learn in class is not really applicable in the real world. Probably 90% of the professors at a major college have not worked in the real world, only in academia.I was fortunate to get 2 with real world electrical experience my first time around. So, in 20 plus EE courses, two professors had actually worked outside the ivy covered walls.

I faked my way into my first job and, being an EE, which if you go to the right engineering school, gives you a bit of an elitist personality, I was able to learn on the job and get by. I've never seen an EE course on running receptacles and lighting to power panels, figuring conduit runs, breaker sizes and the lot. The standard electrician is better prepared for that sort of job. Maybe the course exists somewhere, but not in your standard college curriculums.

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