The Benefits of Online College

The Benefits of Online College

Higher education and skills training have become increasingly important to be marketable in today’s job market.  Thanks to the expansion of technology and the age of the Internet, online colleges and schools have become an especially popular option for pursuing degrees or certifications.  There has been consistent year over year growth (around 1-2% per year) for the last several years for student enrollment in online college programs.  There are also more school online schools being created, and many existing Universities and Colleges have begun to add their own online programs alongside their brick and mortar programs.  Online Colleges are here to stay.

This is because there are many benefits to Online Colleges.  Students, employers, and accreditation and education boards have all recognized the value online college can provide.  Many online programs have received the same accreditations that renowned brick and mortar Universities hold.  They also recognize the accessibility it provides to higher education through greater affordability and flexibility.  Online Colleges can ultimately provide a great educational opportunity to individuals to help them reach their goals in their work and lives.

The Benefits of Online College

In this post, I want to discuss some of the key benefits of Online College.  I hope that this information can help you decide if an Online College education is the right fit for you!

It’s More Affordable

College is expensive and a typical brick and mortar college experience can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $40,000+ per year just for tuition.  This price rapidly increases as you add on various fees, the cost of textbooks, room and board,  meal plans, commute costs, or any of the extra costs that go along with a traditional University.  It’s not unheard of for someone to graduate from a four-year college with $100,000 of student loan debt or expense.

Most online colleges, on the other hand, are able to offer high-quality degree programs at a significantly lower price.   For example, a typical online college program may only cost $5,000 to $15,000 per year and there aren’t usually many extra costs, if any!  They are able to utilize technology and the internet to serve more students with less expense on their end.  Textbooks are often provided online and extra school purchases are minimal.  There isn’t a room or board, meal plan, or commute to worry about!  All of these savings are passed on to the students and that equals a much better value for you.

This is a pretty big deal for most people.  It’s a massive benefit to graduate from college with less overall debt.  This means more money for you and one less loan with interest to pay back.  It’s also great for those self-paying tuition since the lower cost makes it easier to afford school and you’re saving some money in the process.  It’s an especially good deal for everyone when you consider that the online degree is just as good as the one obtained from a brick and mortar school.   The affordability of online college is a benefit that is hard to beat!

It’s More Flexible

Another one of the benefits of online college is the flexibility it offers.  A traditional college often requires a very rigid and structured schedule.  Classes are at set times in a set location.  The schedule is unbending and no one cares if you have to work, have kids, or have another personal or family emergency to attend to.  If you miss out on a class, quiz, or test, you’re pretty much out of luck and stuck in a bad spot.

Online college opens all kinds of opportunities for flexibility.  While some aspects of the curriculum may still be on a schedule, you can often do the learning and work needed on your schedule.  For example, many online colleges require some type of weekly assignment or quiz/test.  While this end due date is rigid, you can do all the study and work leading up to that entirely on your own schedule.  This puts you in control of your school work and allows you to fit it in between work, family, personal matters, and life.

The ability to work at your own pace and on a schedule that works for you is a godsend for most people.  It makes college adaptable for many lifestyles and removes many of the typical barriers that prevent people from pursuing higher education.

There are More Options Available Without Having To Relocate

Most people end up having to relocate to attend college. There may not be colleges in their local area or those that are local do not provide the right programs or fit.  However, relocation is not always easy or ideal. It’s expensive and people may be leaving good family, friends, jobs, or other things they love behind.  Other people simply can’t afford the relocation at all or are in situations that prevent them from relocating.  This factor alone can crush many educational pursuits and dreams.

Online college solves the problem and opens up a world of amazing opportunities in this regard.  You can live anywhere, work anywhere, and go to any college’s online program without actually having to live close enough to attend it.  You’re not limited by the local college offerings or the necessity to relocate for something better or more suitable.  As long as you have a proper Internet connection and computer, you’re good to go.  The sky is the limit and you have access to a much larger selection of colleges and programs that you may have had otherwise.

It’s A More Streamlined and Standardized Experience

Your traditional brick and mortar college comes with a lot of extra baggage.  Just picking your courses can be a massive chore.  There are various courses to choose from and each course comes with a selection of different days and times it’s offered.  Then you need to make a mad dash to register for the courses as soon as they become available so you actually get the courses you want (and need) and somehow you still don’t get the schedule you want because the ones you wanted filled up too quickly.

It doesn’t stop there. There are textbooks you need to buy.  You have to figure out the logistics of getting around campus, especially annoying once you find out one class is a ten-minute walk across campus and you only have five minutes to get there from the prior class.  You also get wrapped up in a game of college politics.  People lament over who got the good professor vs. the bad professor or who just so happened to be the teacher’s pet this semester.  There’s sometimes more focus on all these various politics and the ways you “play the game” than there is focus on good old fashioned learning and hard work.

Online college eliminates many of these hassles and frustrations.  It streamlines and standardizes the college experience beautifully.  Courses are often pre-selected for the program and there’s never any worry about not getting the course you need because they filled up too quickly.  Textbooks are usually provided digitally and getting to class is often as simple as logging onto your online account at the computer.  Technology is utilized in smart ways to make coursework convenient and accessible for anyone.

This ultimately leads to an environment more focused on learning and hard work than one centered on campus politics and learning to play your cards right.  Online college gets straight to the point and offers a clear pathway to obtaining a great education and the degree that waits at the end.  It’s a great option for people looking to pursue a college education without all the hassle that comes with a more traditional brick and mortar college.

Employers Respect It

There was a time in the past when there was a lot of uncertainty regarding the integrity of an online college degree.  Online college was a brand new frontier for higher education and many employers weren’t sure what to think of it.  There were mixed feelings on how legitimate the education was from an online college.  Most took conservative stances and placed favor towards traditional brick and mortar schools as they had always been the gold standard for a college education in the past.

The views on online colleges have since changed and all for the better.  The internet has cemented itself in our country’s current culture and this has ultimately led to the acceptance and embrace of “everything online”.   Online colleges have also worked hard to establish their credibility over the years by acquiring national and regional accreditations, securing partnerships with large employers, and gaining the support of government and other politicians.  Online colleges are now just as legitimate and reputable as any similar brick and mortar school and the majority of people believe this.

What’s most important about all of this is that many of the supporters are employers.  Employers value that many online college curriculums have worked to align themselves with the needs and requirements of the workforce.  They also appreciate the bigger emphasis on competency and learning.  It helps foster graduates who are better suited to jump right into their careers and perform at the needed level.

But most of all, employers in today’s time have a lot of respect for those that pursue and complete online college degrees.  They recognize that college is hard, and pursuing an online degree usually requires some extra effort as well through a lot of self-discipline, perseverance, and drive.  After all, many online college students are working full-time jobs, raising children, or tending to other personal and family matters, all while attending school full-time.  That’s not an easy feat!

All and all, the soft skills and strengths needed to balance all of this and still graduate with a degree are all highly valued skills that translate well into professional careers and the workplace.  Employers value this and they respect online college graduates just as much as those from brick and mortar colleges.

Caveats of Online College

While online college can be a great option for many individuals, it’s not the right choice for everyone.  Here are some caveats of online college to consider before making a final decision.

Less Professional Networking and Social Connections

One of the great perks of a traditional brick and mortar school is that they usually offer ample networking opportunities.  This could be anything from job fairs and ample internship opportunities to fostering connections with faculty and peers alike.  In fact, this is often one of the best opportunities available in the college experience because these social and professional connections can all lead to great job opportunities in the future.  For better or worse, people like to work with or hire people they know. The classmates you get to know can throw wonderful opportunities in your lap just because you were on good terms with them.

Most online colleges are lacking in this regard.  There may be digital communities available for the college but networking just isn’t as effective when it’s not face to face.  Online college is a much more isolated experience in general due to the focus on individual learning.   This is definitely a trade-off to make when considering an online college.

More Self-Guided, You Often Teach Yourself

It’s important to understand that the majority of online colleges are a very self-guided experience.  The curriculum and resources to learn are provided to you and then it’s up to you to learn it.  There is much less hand-holding in online college than a traditional brick and mortar school.  Support for learning is available, but the responsibility of learning is heavily placed onto the individual student.  This requires a LOT of self-discipline.

It’s worth noting that this self-guided nature of online college may actually be a big upside for some people.  Self-starters with a lot of drive, ambition, and self-discipline will love it.  Not everyone is like this, however, and everyone learns differently.  Some individuals very much need to be taught directly by a qualified instructor rather than being able to learn it well on their own.  Others need the more scheduled and rigid structure that a brick and mortar college provides.

There are big differences in the approach to learning between brick and mortar colleges and online colleges, so individuals need to pick the option that best suits the learning style they need to succeed.

Make Sure It’s A Quality School!

Researching the quality and reputation of the college you want to attend is a golden rule for ANY wise college decision.  Just like brick and mortar colleges vary in quality and reputation, the same goes for online colleges.

There are some poor online colleges out there.  Some online colleges even have a reputation as “diploma mills” where it feels like degrees are almost freely handed out as long as the student pays the tuition and shows up.  This is NOT good.  Having a degree from one of these less reputable schools can actually become a big issue for people rather than a big help.

Thankfully, there are tons of excellent online colleges out there.  It’s important people do their research to make sure the online college they are picking has a quality program and a solid reputation.

Online Colleges Can Be a Great Option For Many

Online colleges have established themselves as a great option in today’s society for obtaining a college education.  Many renowned state and private universities have even begun to offer their own online programs.  Online colleges will continue to grow in size as more individuals recognize the benefits and opportunities offered through online education.  Technology advancements will also make online college more accessible to many, even those living in rural areas.

I hope that this article was helpful for understanding the benefits of online college and useful for deciding if an online college is the right choice for you.  Are there any other pros or cons of online college I missed?  Do you have any questions about online college not mentioned?  Let me know in the comments below and thank you for reading!

Yours Truly,
– Mr. Happy Work

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