Courses or Degrees – Which one is better for professionals?

Written by Shaheryar Ehsan ·  2 min read >

Upskilling is an arduous task to achieve for professionals who are actively working in the field. Everyday life must be properly scheduled with meetings coming and going plus having sufficient time for personal activities. In this ongoing hectic routine, many professionals often struggle to pursue higher studies and those that do, are forced to struggle at least 2 to 3 times harder to complete their degrees.

With education going remote and the online webspace being dominated by Ed-Tech startups and websites, one tends to wonder if it is time to skip postgraduation degrees in favor of courses or bite sized tutorials?

And mind this, I am not talking about researchers, they will require degrees and an abundance of knowledge. I am referring to industry professionals who are working at the field.

Take an entry level Software Engineer who may be working in the Data Science domain. For the first 6 months, he will be rigorously going through the company’s onboarding process and adapting to the coding environment to hone his programming skills. But what after that?

Does Upskilling require degrees?

Now the question for that Software Engineer is, whether he should go to grad school and pursue a master’s or go through a course or specialization online which is almost half of the price of the degree, if not more. When we compiled a list of courses under $30 for Data Science programs, we were surprised that you can learn so many concepts for a price of $30 or less. Whether it is your first time in Data, or you want a complete bootcamp, all types of courses are available online. So, should the professional still do a degree or opt for the cheaper courses?

Self-Paced Learning is the future

When you have started a degree, you are always under pressure with the constant deadlines, assignments and more on your head. Self-Paced Learning is the future for professionals where you can learn as and when you want, based on your schedule. Coursera was amongst the first to introduce this and they also have weekly checks on the candidate through email reminders. But the deadline can be reset if required too. Are you going to focus on the job’s deliverables or focus on acing that assignment? Choices!

Online Exam dilemmas

We all know what has been occurring in the country over the last few weeks and obviously these exams will also occur in postgraduate degrees. If students are complaining about the level of education in bachelor’s degrees, can we expect master’s and beyond to be any better? Rather than ranting about the exams, should we not opt for courses in the first place?

In-person/In class experience is just not there

To be honest, in online learning or remote working, the same experience can never be replicated. Bjørn Taale Sandberg from Telenor Research also said the same that even holographic technology cannot replace in person meetings.  But, what’s the most suitable alternative? Online learning.

Platforms have dramatically improved over the years to bridge the gap and improve the learning experience. From digital skill courses in Urdu being offered by Airschool to FSc/Matric learning by and many many others. There are also platforms utilizing AR/VR for this purpose so it is only a matter of time before they become mainstream in the market.

There has been a lot of talks going on this subject matter. As per surveys, the news is generally positive around online learning with 61 percent of HR leaders firmly believing that online learning is of equal or greater quality to more traditional methods. Therefore it means that we can choose online courses and degrees as a suitable alternative to onsite postgraduate programs for professionals.

With that being said, are you opting for a postgrad degree or you are going for an online course?

Written by Shaheryar Ehsan
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