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Online Education: Your Degree on Your Own Terms

Guest Editor: Bradford A. Rogers

My sister, Hannah, began practicing ballet very early in her life, and for as long as I can remember she has been praised for her talent in the art. Her impeccable technique, indomitable work-ethic, and advantageous physiology have all conspired toward the adulation and success she has earned in the course of her short career. It wasn't too long before she began receiving offers to study at prestigious ballet academies across the country, where she would have the opportunity to build  a pre-professional resume with the hopes of someday entering the competitive world of professional ballet.

However, the offers began flowing in when Hannah was preparing to enter high school. At that time, the choice seemed to be between attending a pre-pro ballet academy or earning her high school diploma. Should she choose the former, she might put herself at a considerable disadvantage to complete her primary education and eventually earn a college degree. Should she choose the latter, she would sacrifice a great deal of potential for success in the world of ballet, not to mention the experience of pursuing her passion for the art.

My parents, sharing high aspirations for all of their children, were concerned about the instability of ballet's job market and the prospect that their daughter may not complete her education and go on to attend a university. On the other hand, they understood how much ballet meant and still means to Hannah, and how devastated she would be to miss out on such an amazing opportunity.

Luckily for Hannah, online education was the answer. She learned that she could take high school classes on the internet, ranging in intensity from remedial English to AP Government, while living away from home to attend ballet academy.

Now only 15 years old, Hannah lives in Boston where she attends a reputable ballet academy as a full-time student while she completes an on line  curriculum to satisfy Colorado's high school diploma requirements.

She now has the opportunity to pursue her dreams of a career in ballet without sacrificing the future of her secondary or tertiary education, all thanks to the possibility of distance learning.

As a full-time student myself, I can personally attest to the difficulty of balancing work, education, and personal interests in a world where the job market is only getting tougher and education is only becoming more competitive and expensive.

Yet, we also live in a world in which the digital age and proliferation of internet technology has opened a flood-gate of opportunity for advancement, improvement, and reform in many aspects of life, including education.

As citizens of the digital age, we must not merely acknowledge and adapt to advancements in education technology, but greet those advancements with wholehearted enthusiasm.

In regard to online education technology, the door of opportunity has burst open. It is now quite possible for students from any imaginable background, with any imaginable combination of aspirations and obligations, to find online programs that allow them to balance the various aspects of their lives while furthering their education from the comfort of their own home.

Thus, the alternative of online education presents a valuable opportunity for self-improvement without being at the expense of one's dreams, passions, or obligations. The unbounded potential of this opportunity, and many others presented by similar advancements in technology, should be fully embraced and enjoyed.

For Hannah, online education means being able to follow her dreams. For many others, online learning may make possible what may have been previously impossible: the pursuit of your degree on your own terms and your own time.

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