Until the latter part of the 20th century, the only way to get a college degree was to pack up your things, move to campus, and study your chosen field for four years or more. Advances in technology have changed that and now you can obtain a degree from home through a variety of online degree programs at many different colleges and universities. There are so many advantages to this path that more and more students are considering this alternative rather than the traditional route.
For most people, the most significant advantage is the flexibility offered by distance learning. In most cases, there are few (if any) occasions that require you to be online at a particular time. This learning format is called asynchronous. It allows you to work on your class at the time of day that’s most convenient for you. People who need this flexible learning environment (such as working moms or soldiers serving in the military) are able to obtain their degree when they might otherwise be unable to do so.
2. No More Commute
The second most cited reason by students for choosing online education is the benefit of having no commute. Not only can the expense of commuting to a campus based university be significant in terms of money (high gas prices and wear and tear on the car), but it can be costly in terms of time. If you have to commute an hour each way two or three times a week, that is valuable lost time that could be spent in other ways. A long, frequent commute can also be very stressful and studying for online degree will eliminate this.
3. Lower Costs
The cost of pursuing a degree through an online school is often less expensive overall than attending a traditional college. Although tuition for online courses may be slightly higher in some cases, students in online programs do not have the additional costs of commuting, university parking passes, and room and board. In addition, some schools offer the option of electronic textbooks, which can lower the costs associated with physical textbooks.
4. Speed of Completion
Another common benefit offered by online programs is acceleration. While traditional undergraduate degrees usually take four years to complete, some online degrees are offered in an accelerated format, which allows you to complete a degree in two to three years. This quick movement through a program helps you start a new career, earn a promotion, or find a new job more quickly.
5. Effective Learning Environment
All of the previous reasons are practical and appealing. But some of the most significant advantages have to do with increased learning. Suppose you are in a face-to-face college algebra class and you are distracted for a few moments, looking out the window. When you pull your attention back to the lecture, the instructor has moved on several steps through the problem on the board and now you are lost. In a similar case with online instruction, you would simply revisit the audio, video, or written resource to “find your place”.
Suppose also that you are a shy person who prefers not to interact significantly in your campus based class. You might have an instructor who seems intimidating and the classroom climate may simply be such that questions or discussion are not encouraged. In online degree programs, instructors are typically very available (as a job requirement) to answer questions and mentor. Furthermore, most online courses have discussion boards, so that you can interact virtually with the professor and your classmates, video clips, and even podcasts. The boards provide an interactive learning environment so you won’t be simply sitting back and absorbing information through reading. This type of engagement helps you learn more from your studies.
Options are wide open if you are considering enrolling in an online degree program. Early on, online degrees were somewhat limited to for-profit universities; however, the increased demand by the public has encouraged traditional brick and mortar schools to develop and offer online degrees in many areas. Whatever choice you make for your degree, make sure that your school is accredited. This is a stamp of approval given to quality schools. Accreditation carries a lot of value with future employers. Education is a valuable investment and obtaining a college degree increases employment options and earning power throughout your life.