Online University
10 Students 10 Questions 10 Answers

Brandon Johnston

Brandon Johnston
I think that you will lose out on the networking aspect of college by going to school online unless you actively seek to build those relationships through social media like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Like all aspects of online education, you get out of it what you put into it.
Bachelor of Arts in Business Information Systems
Total Time Enrolled
4 years
  1. Are online schools just in it for the money?

    Although some online schools may not be trustworthy, my school is not just in it for the money. I can see how people might come to that conclusion since they are quite expensive. Yet, I think that online school provides a way for people who can’t go to traditional schools to educate themselves.

    Because it is a difficult matter to judge, online students need to put some effort into researching different schools before they decide where to go. For instance, a major factor that students need to consider when choosing an online school is whether it has the necessary accreditation. Accreditation is what makes the degree you earn valuable, so if your school is accredited, then it is not in it just for the money. But you may need to conduct your own research to verify an institution’s accreditation. You can start by looking online. If you want to be really sure, then you can call the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, like I did.

    Another factor to think about when choosing a school is price. I chose to get my degree from Ashford University because it was cheaper than the other online schools that I explored. After researching and comparing costs, I determined that Ashford University was the most reasonable online school, as opposed to an extremely popular school like University of Phoenix.

    Finally, students can tell whether an online school is legitimate based on the variety of resources that it offers to increase your chances of success. At Ashford University, I have an academic advisor and financial advisor to assist me throughout the program. My academic advisor touches base with me every 2 or 3 months to see how I am doing. In fact, I just received a call from her today, although we usually communicate using e-mail because we have conflicting work schedules. I communicate with my financial advisor using e-mail as well. I typically expect a response from my advisors within 24 hours, which lets me know that I am a priority for them.

  2. What are the pros and cons of studying online?

    The biggest pro to online education is that it allows people to fit studies into their work schedule. In my case, I decided to pursue my bachelors degree online because I needed a flexible program that wouldn’t negatively affect my ability to work. Simply put, I didn’t have time to attend an on-campus school and sit in a classroom on a regular basis. So an online program is great because it allows me to study at different times of the day, whether that means hitting the books early in the morning or late at night.

    However, a con to studying online is the lack of personal interaction that it entails. Classroom discussions are simulated through an online forum, but it isn’t the same as a live debate. It makes for a completely different learning experience. I think that video chatting has great potential application in the realm of online education, but my program did not utilize that technology.

  3. Can you actually learn anything while studying online?

    You can learn while studying online, but you will have to find a way to manage your schedule by blocking out certain times for school and sticking to those times. It takes a massive amount of self-discipline to succeed in an online program.

    I have been able to learn about business information systems through my online bachelors program, which focuses on how business affects information technology. My program combines technology and business operations, so students can expect to learn about topics ranging from project management and marketing to programming and computer networking.

    The most useful classes that I have taken so far were accounting, e-business and e-commerce. My e-business and e-commerce classes were particularly important because they taught me how to establish a flourishing business using the Internet and other technologies. Nowadays, people can become successful businessmen by purchasing a small domain and starting their own website.

    However, the least useful classes that I have taken were my programming class and project procurement class because neither of them related to my career goals. My project procurement class was particularly unhelpful because it had to do with purchasing for factories and assembly lines which is something that does not interest me at all.

  4. How difficult is it to get a job with an online degree?

    I can’t answer that question honestly because I have not attempted to get a job since I don’t have my degree yet. But I suspect that earning my degree online will have neither a positive nor a negative effect on my ability to get a job. I don’t think it will have any influence because a degree is a degree, as long as it comes from an accredited institution.

  5. Is online faculty any good?

    I think my professors are very knowledgeable based on their credentials and backgrounds. Some of my professors have advanced degrees in information technology, and have also worked for companies like Microsoft and Apple as consultants and business analysts. So they definitely seem like experts in the field who are more than equipped to teach students.

    Just like at a state school, some of my professors did seem to be more invested in teaching than others. Some of them were probably in it for the paycheck, but others would spend a significant amount of time uploading additional resources for us to utilize or becoming very involved in our class discussion. What it comes down to is that if you study online, you need to be willing to take responsibility for your own learning rather than expect it to be fed to you.

  6. Are online degrees actually cheaper?

    No, online degrees are not cheaper than offline degrees. They are quite a bit more expensive. Now that I am nearly finished with my degree, I have concluded that I have not gotten my money’s worth for my education, even though my program was accredited and came at a lower cost than many online schools. For example, Ashford University was a lot more expensive for me than a state school would have been since I have paid about $45,000 for 3 years of education. But I knew that I needed to do school online in order to accommodate my life’s schedule, so I didn’t have much of a choice.

    The problem lies mostly with the economic downturn, in my opinion. In this day and age, the expectation is that a person goes to college and earns at least a bachelors degree. But companies know how desperate people are to find work in this job climate, so they don’t have to pay competitive salaries to people, even if they are highly skilled and educated. That means that while college is the most expensive that it has ever been, there is little financial reward for finishing a degree. I have a hard time reconciling those 2 facts because I believe that education is important but it is hard to justify paying this much money for it.

  7. Doesn’t the lack of live student-faculty interaction during class detract from the overall learning experience?

    I have to say yes and no. In my experience, the education I have gotten online is not as robust as if I was in a classroom because learning is self-paced and highly individualized. You read the books by yourself and then you teach yourself about the subjects as opposed to somebody teaching you about it with concrete examples and vibrant discussions. The responsibility to learn falls on you, which is good because it gives you lot of freedom, but you can’t benefit from forming a relationship with a teacher and learning through their experience.

    I do have some interaction with my instructors but it is indirect. I primarily interact with my professors using the discussion forums. However, if I ever have an additional question or need additional information, most of my professors provide contact information. Also, there is a public space to ask professors questions on the web portal. In general, professors will respond to me with 24 to 48 hours.

    Although I am not able to get to know my professors on a personal basis, most of them seem to care about their students. For example, some professors are lenient with deadlines if a student needs extra time on an assignment, as long as the student gives them ample notice. However, there are certain professors who treat teaching strictly as a job.

  8. How do online classrooms work?

    My bachelors program in business information systems is composed of 120 credits. Students take a single 3-credit class every 5 weeks, which is considered a full course load. The curriculum consists of required classes such as basic information technology, business math and human resources, as well as 15 to 18 elective classes. So far, I have taken some interesting electives in organization management and organizational leadership.

    For most classes, students are required to take a quiz every week that covers the class material. Some professors also assign weekly assignments. At the end of each course, students need to complete a final paper ranging between 10 to 15 pages. Classes are structured in such a way that the weekly assignments and quizzes lead toward the final paper. Therefore, the assignments and quizzes serve as a useful resource when writing it.

    Finally, my program requires that students pass a comprehensive exam covering all class material taught in the entire program. The comprehensive exam entails an 8 hour test that includes 200 questions.

    Class material is presented using YouTube, discussion boards, textbooks and e-books. Some professors provide us with links to relevant educational videos, lectures and discussions. I also find e-books to be a useful technology because they allows me to search for important passages using the search button as well as highlight areas of text on the screen for future reference.

    Professors gauge student participation and attendance based on their discussion posts. Each week, students are required to post 2 responses in order to stimulate online conversations between students and professors. Discussion forums give students the opportunity to challenge each other and provide onions.

  9. How computer savvy do you have to be to study online?

    You don’t have to be computer savvy to study online. You need to be able to create a document in Microsoft Word and type a paper but that is about it. A good rule of thumb is that if you can use Facebook, you can study online. And if you are nervous about using the interface, there is no reason to be because you have to go through an orientation process that will teach you how to use the different areas of the site. Online universities make it very easy to navigate their systems.

  10. Can you make friends in an online school setting?

    You can make friends through online school if you put in the effort to do so. Due to the small class sizes of 10 to 20 students, I have been able to build relationships with other students using the discussion forums. Some students will even send e-mail messages to the rest of the class trying to initiate study sessions online. So I think that you will lose out on the networking aspect of college by going to school online unless you actively seek to build those relationships through social media like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Like all aspects of online education, you get out of it what you put into it.

Get to know Brandon

Bachelor of Arts in Business Information Systems
Expected Graduation
Total Time Enrolled
4 years


Brandon Johnston is studying to earn his Bachelor of Arts in Business Information Systems. He is a fourth year online student at Ashford University.

Brandon chose to study online because he needs the flexibility to take classes and work at the same time. In the next 5 years, he hopes to be working in the business administration field doing leadership and coaching. In the meantime, he works for a contractor called S&K Global Solutions.