Did you know that thousands of people want you to go to school online?
Just punch “distance learning in on Google.” You’ll get over 78 million results. Does that mean distance learning is the biggest invention since the wheel? Nope –it just means that getting you to ask for information from an online school is a very, very profitable business.
YOU Are Worth A Lot
Ever wonder why Geico can afford to run so many TV commercials? Well, they’ll invest a bundle to acquire you as a customer, because once you’re in, you will spend a whole lot of money with them over a long period of time. Distance learning is similar – another perfect “direct marketing” play. Each student who signs up will probably paying a school tens of thousands of dollars in tuition over time.
But the schools need help bringing in students, and they get it from an army of small online marketers that’s sprung up to start up sites designed to convince people that distance learning can change their lives. Most either get a few cents every time someone clicks on an ad displayed on the site, or a referral fee if a reader actually fills out a form asking a school for information.
Many of these “affiliate” sites are high in quality, but some of are clearly written by people who could use a little more education themselves.
One theme promoted constantly is that online education improves life in a vague, undefined way. “More and more people are finding that knowledge really is power,” says one website, while another proclaims: “Your life can change too. Your dreams can come true. Just follow the links and learn how.” Without mentioning any specific career, one distance learning hawker promises: “Your earnings will more than double with the right qualifications.” Sometimes the sales pitch seems like a kind of weird, redundant poetry: “Knowledge is an ocean and all must be able to access it….The world of e-learning has created a new world where learning is eternal and there are no limitations.”
There Are No Downturns
Career-specific sites tend to paint a rosy picture of their particular industry. Paying little heed to the current mortgage crisis, one real estate site advises: “Despite the natural rises and corrections to lending interest rates, home and property sales in America continue to thrive.” The strangest sites seem to be in the rather snarky world of “life experience” degrees. “Get benefited by the knowledge you possess!” urges one, while another assures students that if they simply send in a check to get their degree, “there is no need to attend classes or appear in exams!”
Tower Of Babel
The winners in this game are the sites that attract lots of traffic, and the way to attract traffic is with pages and pages full of the right “keywords” like “online learning, e-learning, etc.” Internet marketers have found novel ways to accomplish this, including programs that take articles from another site and rewrite them for re-use with no human intervention. Some garbled but amusing copy results from this machine authoring, and from some site owners who don’t know the English language quite as well as HTML. “If you take your MBA online, your can study at your own time that fit into your schedule, you can learn at home or even while traveling,” says one, adding that the growth of e-learning MBA’s is “largely a result of distance learning program in conjunction with the widely acceptance of online degree in the job market.” Who ever knew that?
There are the occasional self-contradictory bits, like a site that says more people are considering distance learning, because “The popularity of distance learning has peaked.” But most clever of all are the kings of “search engine speak,” the art of using tons of keywords and saying nothing a human could understand: “If you’re considering an online degree program, it is a good idea to check how different learning styles work. This may help you to make a more informed decision about online learning. The tuition methods in online classes are completely different from conventional classes.”
You WILL Study Online
Personally, I don’t know how any one could resist distance learning, when e-learning sites tell me that “The world of online collegiate education is brave and new,” and another comforts me with the knowledge that “the brain has a natural capacity to process unlimited amounts of information. You are an amazing machine.”
Whatever the reason, the bottom line is predictable. Whatever online education you’re searching for, the important message is “Don’t spend any more time worrying – go ahead and sign up for that online class.”