You already know that many colleges and universities offer online degree programs.
But are they right for you?
There are some great reasons for choosing a traditional on-campus school experience. But the benefits of online learning are bringing more and more people to the virtual classroom. If you’re considering skipping the alma maters in favor of the almighty Internet, here are six incentives that could help you make your decision:
- It’s convenient. The reality of higher education is that many of us have to work to be able to afford it. Online learning allows working students to get their education when they aren’t on the job. Traditional classroom schedules are usually during business hours. By contrast, an online classroom often allows you to choose the best time for coursework. There’s no such thing as a missed class. Although some programs are scheduled around real-time group meetings, oftentimes lectures and other course materials are available around the clock.
- Participation is easier. An online classroom encourages students who might otherwise be too timid to speak up. Anyone can ask questions and interact with the teacher. Videoconferencing technology allows spoken discussions in real time, and chat group environments let everyone type their questions and responses. The former more closely approximates the experience of being in a “real” classroom; the latter fosters thoughtful dialogue by requiring everyone to type out what they say.
- It’s quick. Online learning gives you instant access to course materials and resources. A traditional training center in a rural location may not have the necessary books in its library, or the local bookstore may not carry them. Online programs bring subject matter experts and guest speakers to you no matter where you are. If these lectures are prerecorded, they’re the click of a button away. Even if they’re “live” (allowing the students to interact), such presentations can be arranged quickly, without everyone having to travel to the same physical location.
- It’s cheaper. According to studies, online training can be as much as 93 percent cheaper than courses in the classroom. Why? For one thing, the school isn’t paying to maintain an actual building. Those ivy-covered walls cost a lot to build, clean and operate. Tuition at online schools is sometimes cheaper (though not always), and the costs of commuting are eliminated. And those insanely expensive textbooks? Well, you may still have to buy some of them, but many of your materials will be available for you to download online.
- Specialized degrees. There are tons of online degree programs these days. You can get an associate, bachelor’s, master’s or a Ph. D. online. For many of these specialized programs, there aren’t as many non-core electives as you’ll find at a four-year liberal arts college. You’ll be able to focus more on courses that are relevant to your career path, saving you time and helping you get that degree even faster.
- It’s the future. In many ways, schools are still working out the kinks with online learning. As technology improves, new methods will no doubt replace the ones currently in place. But the very act of online learning exposes students to Internet technologies that will come to dominate the way society does business. The Internet is a global marketplace, so it stands to reason that we should get used to it while we’re acquiring life and career skills.