People often say that your college years are the best years of your life. After all, it’s not just about the education, it’s about the lifestyle. It’s living in the dorms your freshman year (and undoubtedly have the strangest person on campus as your roommate). It’s about tailgating and sporting events. It’s about late night cramming sessions and the hours spent in the stacks. It’s about fraternities and sororities. It’s about lectures. It’s about semesters abroad. It’s about lugging your books around campus. It’s about spring breaks and road trips. It’s about bar hopping. It’s about learning your limits and setting your priorities. It’s about learning lessons that can’t be taught from a text book. It’s about growing up.
However, times are changing. Due to cost effectiveness and flexibility web based learning is the educational craze that is sweeping the nation. Last year 600,000 students completed all of their coursework online. In addition, it seems, the information super highway is aiming to offer students the lifestyle (via virtual reality) as well. Second Life (one of many online virtual worlds) offers their student users (“Residents”) more than just education. Students (via their avatar) are able to go to virtual campuses, attend conferences, register for online classes, and even study abroad (all while sitting in the comfort of their living room or perhaps even their favorite Java Bean). Last week the virtual world kicked it up yet another notch and hosted their first commencement ceremony, for 40 or so online students graduating from Bryant & Stratton College (which the students attended through Second Life).
This all raises the question, if you are 18-24 and you don’t take the traditional route (full time student living on campus), are you missing out? Or is it, virtually the same?