There is a lot of misinformation on almost any topic, and online degrees are no exception. South Dakota State University's (SDSU) online degree programs provide distance students the opportunity to take part in high-quality, affordable programs through courses taught by qualified, engaging instructors.

Here are five myths about online learning that need to be debunked.

Online degrees are low-quality

Just like traditional programs, SDSU online degrees are highly accredited. The Higher Learning Commission ensures student support systems are in place, including research access and availability of support infrastructures, such as financial aid, libraries, compliance offices, records and registration.

Additionally, SDSU online courses are taught by the same professors teaching in campus classrooms, or other highly trained instructors, to assure academic excellence. 

Instructors are inaccessible to students

Technology makes communication and mentorship among teachers, advisors and students more accessible than ever through email, instant messaging and chatrooms. Live video chats like Skype and Lync provide opportunities for live office hours.

“My instructor always had timely and helpful feedback on assignments, which just means so much in online learning.”

- Rochelle R., Rapid City, S.D. – M.S., Sociology & Community Development

In addition to instructors, students have access to academic advisors to help them negotiate their plans of study, register for courses and meet their individual goals. For additional questions and concerns, the SDSU Office of Continuing and Distance Education is the go-to support staff for online students.

Distance courses are self-guided

SDSU online classes are all facilitated by an instructor who assigns material, quizzes, assignments and exams reflective of traditional in-class formats. To ensure courses are engaging, many instructors utilize technology to deliver electronic voice, video or presentation-style lectures, as well as include peer discussions and hands-on projects that reinforce content. 

“The freedom distance learning allowed was wonderful. It allowed me the flexibility to work as a firefighter, travel and ultimately move—all while continuing on with my education. I enjoyed the variety of classes I took. Many areas I had no experience with previously, so I loved learning new things in a variety of topics.”

- Eric M., Atlanta, Ga. – B.S., General Studies

Employers don’t value online degrees

Not only does the perseverance to earn an accredited degree online show employers you’re willing to work hard to advance in your field and illustrate your ability to succeed independently, but also many organizations sponsor staff member who are continuing their education while working full time. Others offer financial incentives, such as including partial loan payment in return for a contracted term of employment. 

“In some cases, online degrees can indicate that the student pursued education while attending other responsibilities at home or at work. The prioritization and multitasking skills necessary to achieve academically while also succeeding at work or at home are extremely valuable in a fast-paced agency environment like that at Spark Growth and other digital marketing agencies.”

- Lauren Karasek, Executive Director of Social Media at Spark Growth

Online classes are too expensive

Online degree programs are comparable to on-campus learning. The South Dakota Board of Regents strives to keep education accessible by ensuring affordable tuition and fees. Costs vary between undergraduate and graduate courses and across different disciplines and lab requirements, but the Office of Financial Aid is available to help students apply for scholarships and FAFSA funding.

Download the Online Graduate Degree Guide