Online Education Can Be a Cheap Alternative

Does a college education have to be expensive? asks Kay Shelton at the Daily Chronicle.

In the United States, the cost of a university education can be expensive. Even a state university's tuition, fees, room, board, books and other expenses for one year may exceed what one parent may earn in annual income.

Kay Shelton has two decades of experience teaching at Kishwaukee College, works for Northern Illinois University, and is a doctoral student in the College of Education at Northern Illinois University.

"But imagine being a bright, young kid in a place far away from the U.S., such as Ghana, Nigeria, Rwanda or Haiti. Can children living in places with heartbreaking poverty dream about growing up and attaining a college education?"

According to the 2009 New York Times article, "Israeli Entrepreneur Plans a Free Global University That Will Be Online Only," Shai Reshef founded the University of the People after decades of leading successful educational businesses. Reshef's previous endeavors were no doubt profitable, as he used about $1 million of his own money to found the university.

All classes are offered online, so there are no expenses with building and maintaining classrooms, and no need to spend money on athletics or places to host social activities. According to the University of the People website, volunteer instructors provide online learning materials and monitor small numbers of students organized into study groups who work together online.

Many of those volunteers are retired professors and administrators with previous experience at many of the top universities in the United States. A few paid faculty members develop the curriculum – primarily business and computer science – and lead the volunteers.

However, because the university is so new, it does not have accreditation. But at a cost of less than $1,000 a year, American students should not need federal financial aid; living at home and having a part-time job should suffice.

To students outside the U.S., not being able to transfer credit hours to an American university may not matter. The University of the People offers an education they might not otherwise be able to afford.

With the arrival of modern technology, the World Wide Web, ultra fast computers and related software, the Online University in the United States has made a new beginning, writes Steve Johnson at

"It is creating a unique ambiance and here both students and professors can interact, online. The online mode of learning is really an alternative to the classroom setting and it is a revelation of the power of the modern technology. It is really creating a revolution in the education sector and it is not what we saw about a decade ago."

Learning is considered by many to be one of the things that help human beings avoid mental stagnation, says With so many gadgets at our fingertips, it may be difficult to break away from the interwoven world of technology that we live in. For book nerds, teachers and e-learners this can be exciting news. Since the late 1990s, teachers all over the globe have sought to integrate the use of computer interaction within the classroom. What was once thought to be impossible for students and educators is now a widely preferred reality.

Online courses can offer some relief when it comes to obtaining a degree. Contrary to some people's beliefs, getting an education never has to be a boring task. If you're eager about learning, pens and pencils will never be obsolete. Neither will the mind nor technology.

Matthew Tabor

Matthew Tabor

Matthew is a prolific, independent voice in the national education debate. He is a tireless advocate for high academic standards from pre-K through graduate school, fiscal sense and personal responsibility. He values parents’ and families’ rights and believes in accountability for teachers, administrators, politicians and all taxpayer-funded education entities. With a unique background that includes work in higher education, executive recruiting, professional sport and government, Matthew has consulted on new media and communication strategies for a broad range of clients. He writes the blog “Education for the Aughts” at , has contributed to National Journal’s ‘Expert’ blog for Education , and interacts with the education community on Twitter and Google+.
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