Dear Straight Talk: I’m graduating from high school this June. My stepfather and I don’t communicate and sharing a room with two siblings makes concentrating impossible. I have to get out, but my parents cannot help with college costs. My thought is to get an second job (I already have one) and live on my own while taking classes online. But friends tell me I won’t like online classes, that it is hard to learn on the computer. What do you advise? Is it worth the loans to enroll in real classes? Or should I study online? — Troy in Toledo, Ohio
Brandon, 21, Mapleton, Maine: If your degree even hints at online education (University of Phoenix, DeVry, Kaplan), be prepared to have your resume tossed out. Some universities offer online classes, and those your employer won’t know about, but will you learn anything? Probably not. I’ve only had one online course that I retained actual knowledge from because we were forced to Skype every few days. (Some use online “discussion” forums, but most students only input the minimum.) The online system is a nightmare. I once assisted my university dean in finding teachers who were uploading stolen lessons and quizzes, many with auto answer banks so they didn’t even have to grade them. Don’t be left with an empty feeling and a potentially worthless degree.
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