Trying to Decide Between an Online or In Class Degree?

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    Just as medicine has changed, so has education. As the need for nurses increases, schools try to accommodate. One way to meet the demand is online degrees. Online degrees are not for everyone, but can be a good alternative for the busy working nurse.

    Trying to Decide Between an Online or In Class Degree?


    Changes in the medical field effect everyone with an increased reliance on computers, new medications and procedures. From patients to nurses to doctors, we all experience medicine on a different level than a few short years ago. For nurses, the demand for a higher degree is looming in our educational futures. Many nurses choose to attend class with an online school. Working adults have a crunch for time, so online courses are a valuable alternative to sitting in a classroom for hours. The increasing problem with online classes is cheating. Cheating has become profitable for online sites and an easy out for students who aren't ethical.

    Demand for Nurses

    The demand for nurses waxes and wanes from decade to decade. As the years pass, the standards for nursing jobs are increasingly asking for higher levels of education. In the article, "New AACN Data Show an Enrollment Surge in Baccalaureate and Graduate Programs Amid Calls for More Highly Educated Nurses," it tells us that nurses are called to increase their education and as a result there has been an increase in enrollment to baccalaureate, master's, and doctoral nursing programs.

    Though schools have been expanding and adding classes, in the year 2011, * 75,587 students were turned away from professional nursing programs, among those, 14,354 were applications to graduate programs. The driving force for higher education starts with the Institute of Medicine who want 80% of nurses to hold a Baccalaureate by 2020. They believe that this will improve healthcare in our nation.

    The number of minority students and male students have increased. Entry level minority baccalaureate nursing students have increased to 26.9%. Male nurses average 6.6% of the nursing population but the percentage of men in baccalaureate and master's programs are 11.4% and 9.9%.

    Jonathan Beachy tells us in his article, "The Growth and Importance of Online Nursing Programs," that the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that during the years of 2012 and 2022 there will be a need for 525,000 replacement nurses and a total of 1.05 million of replacement/growth nursing jobs by the year 2022. One way that colleges have dealt with this need for nurses is combining online classes with onsite clinicals.

    Need For Online Nursing Programs

    The median age of nurses is 46, so many are headed to retirement, in fact 50 percent of nurses are very close to leaving the workforce. Aside from the baby boomers, healthcare has become unquestionably specialized, creating more need for nurses.

    Nursing programs have increased the move to being online due to the demand for nurses. RN to BSN programs have grown by one third just in the past two years. Lectures have been replaced with interactive seminars. The seminars help guide students with discussion, written assignments, and readings. Beachy states that online nursing classes are just as rigorous as the classroom and that online schools are accredited in the same way "brick and mortar" schools are. The following two accreditation bodies are the ones to look for when shopping for an online school:

    *The National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC)
    *The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)

    Make sure you do research before choosing an online school to further your degree.

    Choosing An Online Nursing School

    There are several categories that online programs are ranked by taken from the article, "Methodology: Best Online Nursing Programs Rankings" by Eric Brooks and Robert Morse.

    · Student engagement - being able to readily collaborate with fellow students, instructors are accessible.
    · Faculty credentials and training - employees credentialed instructors.
    · Peer reputation - Degrees that are respected among employers.
    · Student Services and technology - strong support structures, career guidance and financial resources.
    · Admissions selectivity - students have proven aptitudes, ambitions and can handle difficult course work.

    Cheating with online classes

    Most of us have cheated on a test at some point, whether we wrote something on our palm or on a scrap of paper, although it wasn't the ethical thing to do. Modern day cheating has become very sophisticated with online classes. In the article, "Cheating in Online Classes Is Now Big Business," Derek Newton explains how the internet has opened up a whole new line of lucrative business.

    They aren't hiding, it is easy to find a freelancer to help students with their classwork, going so far as to assuming their identities and taking the whole class for them online. Derek tells of his experience reaching out to someone about taking an online English Literature class at Columbia University. He got an offer for someone to take the class and guarantee him a B or better for the low cost of $1,225.15. He received the following affirmation, "We offer the services of a pool of experienced academic tutors to take classes and complete course work for our clients."

    So for a mere extra $1000 a class, a person could earn a 120 credit, $40,000 bachelor's degree without ever actually doing a class. One way to cut down on this unethical action is for colleges and instructors to have more direct contact with students, like video chat which creates a record.

    Other ways to cut down on cheating with online classes is proctoring tests and the use of plagiarism detection software.


    If you are thinking about furthering your education, choosing between an online program and onsite learning is a big decision. Some people do not have the discipline to do online classes and need face to face accountability. Some excel at being an autonomous learner, being able to schedule learning time any time during the day. The other side of the coin are the students who crave the class atmosphere where there is immediate feedback and networking. Whatever you decide, do your homework. If you are currently taking an online degree program, tell us how it is going. Have you encountered any of the cheating websites?


    Beachy, Jonathan. "The Growth and Importance of Online Nursing Programs". Nursing & Healthcare. 7 January, 2016. Web.

    Brooks, Eric and Morse, Robert. "Methodology: Best Online Nursing Programs Rankings". 6 January, 2015. U.S.News. 7 January, 2016. Web.

    Haynie, Devon. "Think Twice Before Cheating in Online Courses". 17 June, 2014. U.S.News. 7 January, 2016. Web.

    "New AACN Data Show an Enrollment Surge in Baccalaureate and Graduate Programs Amid Calls For More Highly Educated Nurses". 22 March, 2012. American Association of Colleges of Nursing. 7 January, 2016. Web.

    Newton, Derek. "Cheating in Online Classes Is Now Big Business". 4 Nov. 2015. TheAtlantic. 7 January, 2016. Web.
    Last edit by Joe V on Jun 17, '18
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  3. by   meanmaryjean
    "Most of us have cheated on a test at some point"? Really? I never have. Do you have a source for this revelation?
  4. by   elkpark
    The BLS predicts an increase, but the US DHHS Health Resources and Services Administration is predicting a significant oversupply of RNs by 2025 (by >300,000 RNs). There is currently an oversupply in many parts of the country. Whether or not there is going to be increasing demand (above and beyond the dramatic increase in new grads being produced each year) is debatable and remains to be seen.

    Future of the Nursing Workforce: National- and State-level Projections, 2012-2025

    (Also, the NLN's accrediting arm hasn't been called NLNAC in many years. It was ACEN for a while, and now it's recently renamed itself CNEA (Commission on Nursing Education Accreditation). Students looking for schools with NLNAC accreditation are not going to have much success.)

    However, cheating in on-line as well as B&M courses has certainly become big business. We've had posters here who were obviously promoting that kind of business and looking for customers.
  5. by   Brenda F. Johnson
    Quote from meanmaryjean
    "Most of us have cheated on a test at some point"? Really? I never have. Do you have a source for this revelation?
    Good for you
  6. by   elkpark
    Quote from meanmaryjean
    "Most of us have cheated on a test at some point"? Really? I never have. Do you have a source for this revelation?
    Oh, yeah; I meant to comment on that statement as well. I haven't cheated on a test, either, and would be interested in some documentation that "most of us" have. That's a scary thought ...
    Last edit by elkpark on Jan 19, '16
  7. by   sailornurse
    [FONT=Open Sans, verdana, sans-serif][COLOR=#000000] "75,587 students were turned away from professional nursing programs, among those, 14,354 were applications to graduate programs."[/COLOR][/FONT]

    [FONT=Open Sans, verdana, sans-serif][COLOR=#000000]Where did these statistics come from? Also there is a shortage of nursing faculty, shortage of available clinical sites, limits are placed by BON on faculty to student ratio in clinical (New Mexico 1:8, Texas 1:10) and these are a couple of reasons for students being "turned away".

    As for applications to graduate programs, did all the applicants meet eligibility criteria? As former faculty, we sometimes got incomplete applications, unqualified applicants, applicants still taking pre-reqs.

    Many online programs have suddenly materialized, many for profit schools, such as University of Phoenix that give "credit for life & work experience" exists, U. of Phoenix is now banned from military bases. A few have suddenly closed. I taught at Vista College LPN program, no pre reqs, no minimum GPA, we did not even know if the students had a GED or high school diploma, quite a few had flunked out of community college. All were accepted as long as they were willing to sign for Federal Student loans to pay $34,000 for and LPN diploma.[/COLOR][/FONT]
  8. by   Spurse32
    She said "most" people have cheated. That means more than 50% of students have cheated at least once. I'd probably say that's somewhat accurate. However, I'd be interested to see if she has any data to back it up. I doubt you'll be able to find anything definitive. There's obviously no way to prove whether more than 50% of the people reading this article or nursing students, have cheated or not. It's a matter of opinion.

    If you cheated your way through a NP program for example, wouldn't that make it pretty difficult to pass the licensing exam?
    Last edit by Spurse32 on Jan 21, '16 : Reason: edited
  9. by   cjcsoon2bnp
    I know that this wasn't the intention of the original post but since the topic of academic dishonesty is being discussed and users have asked questions about the available research, I thought I might have something to add.

    I think that when the original poster said that "most of us" have engaged in cheating she was implying that > 50% of the audience has engaged in some form of academic dishonesty and I think that the research does support this statement. While we would all like to believe that nursing students don't engage in academic dishonesty because nursing continues to be rated as the most ethical profession by the American public, sadly this is not the case. According to studies by McCabe (2009) and Roberson (2009) from 58 - 94% of nursing students report that either they or their peers have engaged in at least one episode of academic dishonesty (as cited by Woith, Jenkins & Kerber, 2012). Research has shown that nursing educators see examples of academic dishonesty often and with the same frequency as educators in other academic disciplines (Fontana, 2009; Woith et al., 2012). What is frightening is that students who engage in academic dishonesty are more likely to engage in dishonest or ethically questionable behavior in professional practice following graduation (Woith et al., 2012).

    Due to the nature of this post and that this isn't a concept analysis paper I have only included two evidence-based sources but I think it supports the point.


    PS: Can't forget the APA citations

    Fontana, J. S. (2009). Nursing faculty experiences of students' academic dishonesty. Journal of Nursing Education, 48(4), 181-185.

    Woith, W., Jenkins, S. D., & Kerber, C. (2012). Perceptions of academic integrity among nursing students. Nursing Forum, 47(4), 253-259.