Earning your degree online doesn’t mean you have to give up the quality education you deserve. Earning your degree online offers many advantages in comparison to an on-campus program. Especially for adult learners who have full-time jobs, have many commitments outside of work, and are looking for an affordable, quality education, an online education may be the best fit.
In fact, according to the 2018 Online College Students report by The Learning House, Inc. and Aslanian Market Research, 54% of online college students are employed full time, and 85% believe that studying online is as good or better than attending classes on campus.
So, what are some of the benefits of online learning?
One advantage of online learning is the flexibility to study whenever and wherever you want. Not only can you complete coursework while sitting on your living room couch, at a coffee shop, on the beach, or elsewhere, you can maintain your personal and professional commitments. Classes are generally easier to attend since you don’t have to deal with traffic on the way to campus, and you can still collaborate with your instructors and classmates. All while experiencing the same quality education that you would get if you were attending classes on campus.
Instead of sitting in a classroom, you can listen to lectures and complete assignments from a more comfortable learning environment. You also gain around-the-clock access to your class materials. This allows you to conveniently complete homework whenever you desire, whether it’s in the wee hours of the morning, during your lunch break, or right after dinner. If you enroll in an asynchronous program, you don’t have to log into class at a particular time to listen to lectures or interact with your instructor and classmates.
Not only will you have the flexibility to complete your coursework at a time and place of your choosing, you typically have the flexibility to begin your degree at multiple times throughout the year. Many colleges offer multiple start dates for their online programs. Some online programs have as many as six start dates available, so you can begin your program halfway through the fall semester if you’d like.
Additionally, some online programs have an accelerated format that offers shorter course terms that may be seven or eight weeks long each. With the shorter terms each semester, you can concentrate on just one or two classes at a time instead of trying to juggle four or five.
Maintain Your Commitments
Another one of the many benefits of online learning is that you can maintain your personal and professional commitments. Even though balancing your studies with your job and life responsibilities can be challenging at times, you don’t have to quit everything when you decide to continue your education.
Designed for working professionals, online programs allow you to gain the skills you need to advance your career. Additionally, many online students are parents who might not have time to earn a degree on campus when taking care of their children. With online learning, you can continue living your life while you create a brighter future for yourself and your family.
Gain Real-World Experience
You may think that you might not be able to gain the practical experience in online courses as you would in a physical classroom. However, you can still acquire real-world professional experience during your online program through practicum courses and internships.
Through these opportunities, you will get a better understanding of the concepts and theories you learned in the online classroom and further prepare for professional success. The knowledge you gain can be immediately applied to your work, allowing you to flourish and stand out in the workplace, and you will make lifelong connections with those in your field.
For example, some online nursing programs require practicum courses, which you can complete during your job in the hospital. For education degrees, you can earn valuable experience and practicum hours while teaching in the classroom. If you are enrolled in an online social work program, you can apply your knowledge of helping others at a social welfare agency.
Access to Resources
Online learning doesn’t mean that you lose the access to the resources you need to be successful in your program. Most institutions offer a variety of resources to their online students.
Many schools provide you with access to their electronic library resources, such as e-books and research journals and databases. Some offer career services, so that you can get feedback on your resume and cover letters or get help with finding a new job. Another valuable resource you may be able to take advantage of are your school’s tutoring services, where tutors can assist you with the concepts you learn in the online classroom. Of course, if you live near your school, you can also visit campus to take advantage of the library facility and resources.
Depending on your school, you’ll have access to faculty members who are prepared to help you throughout your entire program. With these resources, you’ll be able to receive individualized guidance from a variety of faculty members. Some colleges offer enrollment counselors, advisers, a transcript team, and tuition planners who will help you throughout your educational journey and make sure that you stay on track each step of the way. Their assistance and knowledge can prove to be an invaluable resource to you.
When you earn your degree online, your overall costs are substantially lower than an on-campus program. Since you’ll complete courses from home, you don’t need to find on-campus housing or purchase a school meal plan.
In addition, your transportation costs are significantly reduced when you’re taking online courses, as there’s no need to drive your car or take public transit back and forth to campus. And as some online courses use open educational resources instead of physical textbooks, you can potentially save hundreds of dollars per class by not having to purchase books each semester.
If you’re like most online undergraduate students, you may have some credits that you have earned in the past at an accredited institution, which can further reduce the overall cost of your degree (not to mention help you earn your degree sooner). You can also use financial aid and military benefits if you are eligible.
When you’re considering an online degree, you may be thinking that you won’t receive the same attention or opportunities for collaboration as you would if you were to be in an on-campus classroom. However, there are many opportunities to interact with your instructors and classmates in online courses.
Just like on-campus college programs, some online programs boast small class sizes, which can contribute to better student outcomes. While the number of students in your course can vary, the ideal student-to-faculty ratio for online courses is 20 or 25 to one, according to an article from Inside Higher Ed. With smaller class sizes, there are many opportunities for you to receive personalized attention and engage in conversations with your instructor and get help with the material if you’re confused about something. There are still group discussions with them and your classmates in which you can ask questions and get constructive criticism. Compared to on-campus classes, online courses also promote a deeper analysis and comprehension of the concepts taught.
Another benefit of online learning: Those who are introverted may feel more comfortable participating in group discussions online rather than joining a discussion in a classroom on campus. These students don’t have to be too shy to bring up their thoughts and ideas like they would be in person or in front of a large group of people.
Along with ease of collaboration with your peers and instructor, it will also be easier to concentrate on your coursework. Distractions that you would encounter within a classroom environment are eliminated when you’re taking classes online.
A Variety of Programs
Online learning opens the door to a wide range of available programs. Whether you’re enrolling in a certificate, associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree program, you can find a program that is sure to help you reach your goals. And you don’t even have to find a program that you can afford at a university near you — you can find one that that suits your needs on the other side of the country.
Build on Your Technical Skills
You’ll have to familiarize yourself with the various technical aspects of taking online college courses. You’ll need to navigate the learning management system (LMS) your course uses and view or listen to lectures from your instructors. You’ll also have to create and submit documents for your assignments, which may be files created using a word processing program or PowerPoint presentations.
Having the desire to complete coursework through your smartphone or tablet is common. On your mobile device, you might be able to access reading material, communicate with your instructor and classmates, conduct research, and log into your LMS. With the added option of using your mobile device for school, you’ll gain more flexibility with your studies.
There are many benefits of online learning. From the convenience to the ability to interact with your classmates and gain real-world skills, you’ll experience a quality education at an affordable price while making lifelong connections. Furthering your education helps you become a better you, and an online education helps make your dreams more feasible.