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The education system in India today has evolved significantly in the last 20 years. In the 1990s, most students went to a college in their city and studied whatever course was offered there. If they lived in a smaller town without a good college, then they were forced to travel to their nearest city and live a struggling student life, far away from their family.
At the end of the first decade in the 21st century, however, the options that students have for college have exploded massively. Today, students have their choice of college, degree and subjects, sitting in the comfort of their home, no matter how small their town is. All they need is a computer & the Internet.
There are several colleges online that a student can choose from. From the oldest and most reputed IGNOU (Indira Gandhi National Open University) to the neighborhood city college, a student has their pick of colleges online where they can obtain degrees, diplomas and certificates in any subject they choose.
Colleges online typically find B.A., B.Com. & B.Sc. courses more popular among students and IGNOU offers degrees in rarer subjects like Medical Imaging & Radiology, Fashion Merchandising, Textile Design and even Architecture online.
There are a few colleges online that offer complete diplomas courses online with no textbooks or notes in paper at all. These 'virtual' courses are typically not complete degrees but post graduate diploma courses in some specializations like Cyber Law, Food Safety, Business Process Outsourcing, etc.
Most colleges online will follow a method of instruction as follows:
- Printed educational material/textbooks/guides are giving to the students at the start of the course
- Regular assignments, tests are given online which the student has to complete in a timely manner
- Face-to-face contact sessions, online chats by which the student can clarify doubts with the faculty
- Some colleges online like IGNOU also offer video streaming of lessons which the student can view at his or her own leisure
There are several advantages to studying from colleges online. Some of them are given below:
- The student has the choice of colleges to study from rather being restricted to the college in their town
- The student has a wider choice of subject & specialization to study from when choosing colleges online
- The student has the flexibility of schedule with colleges online leaving time free for pursuing another degree, working or even looking after their family
However, there are also many precautions that a student must take before choosing from the several colleges online. Some of the precautions are:
- Choose a genuine college: First, a simple check on the University Grants Commission (UGC) website (www.ugc.ac.in) will tell the student whether their college has been reported as fake or has been given accreditation by UGC.
- Talk to Alumni: All good colleges online will give the students some way to contact alumni who have completed their course and who prospective students can get admission from.
- Physical Contact: If possible, visit the college's office in person or speak to them through the telephone and judge whether they are an actual college offering real education.
Online MBA degrees
Several Online MBA degrees are available on the Internet nowadays and the student is spoilt for choice. How does a student go about evaluating which Online MBA degree is the best option for them?
There are many criteria which are important when choosing an Online MBA program and we shall discuss some of them below:
- The reputation of the institute: It is very important not to get an online MBA degree from any unheard of online university. If possible, look at online MBA degree's only from colleges that offer full-time MBA degrees. Then it will be easier to evaluate the college using published rankings which appear in magazines. If the college offers only online MBA degrees and not full-time degrees, then you must check whether the college is affiliated to a university and authorized to run this program.
- The syllabus: Just because it is an online MBA degree doesn't mean that you should not get a good education. You are paying the fees for an MBA and you should receive an MBA education as well as a degree. Compare the curriculum of the online MBA degree with that of the university's full-time program.
- The faculty-student interaction: Some online MBA degrees just send you the course material and tests whereas others offer a chat facility with faculty and the best ones offer video streaming lectures, chats, webinars and other modes of online interaction. Look for the maximum points of interaction between faculty & student; it will keep the course interesting for you. Also make sure that if you need help or guidance, a faculty member will be available for you to contact.
- Contact sessions: Though the degree may be an online MBA degree, you should have the option of attending live lectures and meetings with the faculty once in 3-6 months. This is also an opportunity to meet other students and get to know them.
- Alumni: Contact old students of the online MBA degree program at the college you plan to attend and see what they have to say about the college. You are ultimately taking an MBA to further your career prospects and if your online MBA degree is seen as not useful or worse, harmful, then it could be a waste of your time or money. Check the references carefully before you pay any fees or deposits.
Finally some general advice:
- An online MBA degree can be a rewarding and enriching step on the corporate ladder.
- Making the right choice of college and program for your online MBA degree can make all the difference between it being a great step or a small step on your way to success.
- Evaluate all your options wisely, talk to as many people as you can.
- Don't listen only to the college's marketing talk, what is the best option for the college may not be the best option for your online MBA degree.
- Online MBA degrees can help you get a qualification while you have a full-time job or home responsibilities during the day. But they still require study and hard work if you want to gain an education from it.
- While choosing an online MBA degree, also take a look at the specialization that is right for your career path and where you want to go in the future. The right choice of specialization can also help you change your career path.