Gatlin Online Educational Schools: Are they worth it?
That is the million dollar question many have when seekers are trying to find a new career, enhance skills and so on. Gatlin is world famous for its online education via the Internet. They offer a wide variety of educational courses that in most cases can be taught via the Internet to remote locations.
The range of courses cover just about any field from medical, IT, trades, business etc. The attraction is that you do it from your home. That makes it easy. However, just keep in mind that to switch into a career usually just having the education is not enough. Having a certificate from an online course, even Gatlin, carries a negative stigma to it for many employers.
Gatlin offers many of its courses through state university online continuing education websites. How that works is that you pay the tuition via the university and then Gatlin actually does the training and provides the books etc. In this way, it makes it appear more valid coming from a university.
Having done a few of their courses via Calif. State University-East Bay continuing education, many are reasonable in cost, ranging from $2000-6,000. The books received are excellent high level for the field, I would say college level texts, usually 3-4 of them to study from. Study is self pace many times and basically you read the assignments and take the quizzes and final exams. Interaction with the instructor, who may actually live in several States away, is limited and they really can't instruct should you simply need one on one help. The Internet connection and website is always on, never had a problem with it being down. Some lessons may have short videos to simulate the classroom. Learning quizzes help cement the material and can be retaken.
Interaction with other students via the website can happen, but most tend to just focus on the studies, take the exams. If you fail an exam, you can try it again, learning from the first time around. The problem is that while they provide the correct answer, they do not show how to get the answer (as in a math equation). If the student treats the online course as serious course and not the "easy" way out, learning will happen, as if you were attending a college level class. It is all about discipline and attitude.
Most of the courses have a deadline that must be achieved. For instance, a Pharmacy Tech course has to be completed in six months, more than enough time. While Gatlin does provide good books and learning, like almost any online course where one is trying to learn a new career to enter, the failure is the experience one needs to have via internships. This is what the traditional schools have over the online courses. Gatlin attempts to solve this by having internships where possible, but the problem is, the internship to gain the experience is totally insufficient.
For instance, in the Pharmacy Tech course, the student who is near the end can apply for an internship at Walgreens only through Gatlin. When accepted after considerable wait, only 20 hrs is required at a retail pharmacy. Then, on their own, the student is to complete another 20 hrs in a hospital. So, total internship is a mere one week. Since most jobs in this field require at least six months or more experience, the graduate student faces the age old issue- no experience.
By comparison, if one obtains a Pharm Tech certificate via a local college, not online, the school will probably assist in finding the new grad an entry level job and provide an internship lasting months, which far more valuable! For instance, Kaiser Hospital has educational contracts with many colleges which allows students to gain experience via the internship. A grad from Gatlin, while the school education may be as good, Kaiser will not allow them to even volunteer there unless they are from one of the colleges they associate with. Students may try to gain skills by going to other retail outlets, such as CVS, Rite-aid, but the hurdles to get an internship are difficult. Usually they must apply online and wait.
Thus, the real downfall for online courses including Gatlin is not the education but the student getting the experience to get that first job. Unless it is received, the student has the education and a certificate only and faces problems in getting the experience.
If you are switching careers using an online course, seriously consider how the course gives the experience also. If they do not, go with the traditional school at a JC or State U continuing education.