Dude, when I was accepted, I was a 23-year-old foreign applicant, degree field was in STEM, and, incidentally, I already was reading this forum. "What you did" worked reasonably well for you, but traditional way with funding was pretty much the only deal for me. Besides, for the most part I had a blast during these 6 years, if I ignore things not really related to my study program. Let's just say both of us picked what worked best in our specific situations. Yeah, well he may indeed be more effective in that specific argument. Thing is, "online" is how kids these days spell "non-traditional". So when the same guy says "all online universities are a joke" and "but I have RA degree, and it is great" (and that degree is decidedly non-traditional), this does sound a tad hypocritical and self-serving. That's what I'm trying to say. Well, I have peer reviewed publications, so there's that. OTOH, at least a couple of your books had some modest impact back in the day, and my articles, to be honest, had not (beyond diminishing value on my CV and having propped up my advisor's output metrics). So I can dismiss your output as "trade volumes", to which you can say that my output was "minor", and we both would have a point. Outside academia, you have an edge, I give you that. In unpublished writing, my only experience was an expert witness report for respondents (the Crown) in the tax court; case was settled out of court. I, too, have many things to be grateful for. I have a great family and a job with decent pay and almost-tenure-level job security. I can fairly say that I succeeded as an immigrant. But "successful academic" is someone who, in academia, didn't peak at earning a PhD. It doesn't help that I DID try to get a full-time teaching gig. In 2008, it was a recession combined with "the sky is falling, all jobs move to India" low in enrollments - brutal market. I also had 3 offers, all of which fell through for bullshit HR reasons (they refused to handle immigration for a foreign hire, or, in one case, were only willing to get a temporary visa). That hurt.