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Which Is Preferable: Brick-and-Mortar or Online Education?

Which Is Preferable: Brick-and-Mortar or Online Education?


By Shun McGhee
Contributor, Career Services

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, there are about 4,700 degree-granting institutions in the United States. That’s a lot of schools. Some of these institutions offer two-year degrees and others have four-year programs. (Certification-granting institutions like barber colleges and esthetician schools are not included in this number.)

People use various ranking systems to determine whether or not an institution falls into the “quality education” category. Some people base their rankings on the age of the school: the older the school, the higher it ranks. Other people rank schools according to the success of their athletic programs. The more championships or Final Four appearances a college has, the higher it is ranked.

Class Instruction in a Brick-and-Mortar Building Is Not Inherently Better than Online Education

I am fairly open-minded when it comes to the ranking system to choose a school. However, I do find it interesting that some people rank brick-and-mortar institutions higher than online colleges, just because instruction occurs in a building’s classrooms. Before you accuse me of being biased because I work at an online institution, let me say that I obtained my undergraduate degree from a brick-and-mortar school.

In general, I do not think one environment is better than the other. I don’t believe there are any discrepancies in the quality of education offered by either type of institution. Students’ learning styles and life schedules often play a large role in whether they choose a brick-and-mortar institution or an online school.

Students nearing graduation at APUS sometimes ask me about the employment success rate of those who attended online institutions. I have never read any statistics comparing how well students graduating from brick-and-mortar colleges obtained jobs to those students who attended online institutions.

Getting a Job Is Not Determined by Which Type of School You Attend

In my opinion, obtaining a job is about much more than whether you attended school virtually or in person. Sure, there are some professions that require a good deal of lab or other on-campus work that must be completed in person with an instructor. After all, you would not want your physician to have earned his M.D. online. But this is an exception. In most cases, getting a job is about being in the right place at the right time and being prepared.

So when you apply for employment, do not be apprehensive because you attended school online. Apply with conviction, having done everything you could to meet the qualifications listed on the job announcement.

About the Author

Shun McGhee is a Career Coach at American Public University System, where he has been employed for nine years. He attended Morgan State University in Baltimore, MD. Shun is passionate about helping students reach their career goals and enjoys the opportunity career coaching affords him to help students make life-altering decisions.