Earning an online degree can prove beneficial in various ways, depending on what the student is after. Federal data shows that one-third of students took at least one of their courses online in the fall term of 2018. There is an increase in online students every year and with good reason.
Due to the flexibility, variety of online degrees, and many benefits of online learning, there are numerous students who choose to pursue it. So, let’s take a look at a few of those benefits.
1. Lower Cost
Online programs can oftentimes prove to be less costly than taking the traditional route. Although the program in itself may not always be cheaper than traditional classes, the total cost is generally lower. The decreased cost is due to the fact that you won’t have to deal with housing expenses and transportation.
Sometimes students can even save up on course material, with many textbooks being available online at no cost. In addition, many universities now acknowledge and accept credits from Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) free online courses, which could help you complete the program faster.
Another factor that could contribute to the tuition being easier to pay off is the fact that most of the time, with an online program, you will have enough free time to maintain a full or part-time job. This can decrease your student debt due to the fact that you would be having an income from an early stage.
Having the flexibility factor in education can play a major role in a student’s decision to commit to online learning. Many students need to balance work and school, or simply don’t want to commit to a full-time program that requires their physical presence at the university campus.
An online program allows students to juggle between school and work while also leaving space for them to grow professionally. Flexibility is also welcome to people who have a family to take care of and aren’t able to attend university in the traditional way.
Flexibility can also be beneficial to those who prefer to digest smaller portions of a lecture over time. Many universities will offer power-point presentations on subjects, allowing students to portion the information and learn it throughout the day.
3. More Time
Everyone has different reasons for wanting more free time from university obligations, whether for work, hobbies, family, or enrolling in two colleges for earlier graduation. In this regard, since online programs don’t require commuting, they can often save time.
Apart from generally having more time, you will also have the opportunity to think thoroughly before sharing your opinion or your argument on a particular subject. Additionally, sometimes there is no real-time classroom, and you will have time to construct an idea the best way you can before you share it with your professor and classmates.
4. Comfortable Learning Environment
Having a comfortable environment to study can be crucial to many students. While some prefer to study in libraries, many find that their homes are a much more suitable location.
Some students don’t enjoy traditional classrooms and having to speak in front of many people. This is why sometimes, being able to follow the coursework online will make the information more digestible to them. Having a comfortable environment to learn, in most cases, helps students to be more motivated and achieve better results.
5. Improving Virtual Communication Skills
In a day and age when many functions are moving online, improving your virtual skills is a necessity. Consequently, getting your education online can be of great help, since communication, both written and auditory, is virtual when getting an online degree.
Working with others in a virtual environment can also help you gain leadership skills. You’ll get a chance to create efficient processes, use specialized knowledge, and make decisions regarding the best communication practices. This can, in the future, prepare you for knowing when to set up a meeting and what can be done electronically.
While you study online, you will get a chance to participate in different discussion boards with your classmates. Discussion boards will help you strengthen your ability to make clear, strong, and professional arguments and points via text. In addition, you will understand netiquette rules better and improve your overall virtual communication skills.
6. Focus on Ideas
One of the advantages of online learning is that it can help you focus more on ideas than on how you’re presenting them verbally and your body language. With most of the communication and assignments being done non-verbally, the limelight falls on the content of what you’re presenting.
Once you take out the other factors, students will likely put more time into making their idea their prime focus. This can, in turn, help them create a more in-depth and clear presentation. As such, this can help students get better results for their work.
7. Self-Paced Learning
One of the benefits of online education is that it offers a lot of flexibility, and with that, you will be able to learn at your own pace. Some students don’t deal well with having a fixed studying schedule and would rather learn and listen to lectures when they feel most focused. Hence, the flexibility that online education offers is perfectly suitable for them.
Furthermore, self-paced learning can also help you develop time management skills since you will be the one determining your own schedule. Because there is oftentimes no set classroom time, students have to resort to planning ahead and choosing the time when they will study.
Time management skills are appreciated by almost any hiring manager. These skills show that you will be able to complete the tasks in minimum time and make the most out of it.
8. A Broader Perspective
Because of the nature of online learning, you can expect to have contact with people from different parts of the world. Since the program doesn’t require the students to be in the country where the university is, you’ll get a chance to communicate with people from different cultures and backgrounds.
Apart from networking with students from other countries, students also have an opportunity to witness a different kind of thinking from their own. This builds a more global perspective, which is a great asset in both studying and working.
Employers are always seeking people who are prone to innovation. Usually, this skill comes from outside of your immediate world. Having an idea of certain countries adopt new technologies, how their industries work, and their take on any given subject can give inspiration for new ideas or even new takes on something that you’re already working on.
Succeeding in getting an online degree generally takes a lot of self-motivation. Since an online program comes with such flexibility, you will be in charge of setting priorities, dealing with multiple tasks, and working on changing conditions.
These skills you gain will prove more than valuable in your career. Since you will have to motivate yourself to put the work in, you will also have to think critically about what you do day-to-day and how you do it. Self-motivation, along with critical thinking, are skills that will help you, not only study easier but also in your current or future job.
Although these skills can also be learned in traditional classrooms, they come more into focus when you’re following an online program.
10. Accessibility To Learning Content
When learning online, everything you need is just one click away. From the reading material to your notes, recorded lectures, and discussions with other students and teachers — everything is on your computer, and you can easily access it at any time.
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Moreover, you no longer have to worry about carrying printed versions of the course material or losing your notes. You can also create group chats or share documents with the other students and access each other’s notes and explanations about the course you follow. Your computer and all the valuable material stored in it will become your best friend as you go through online learning.
11. Updated Learning Material
Another benefit of online learning is that you are more likely to work with up-to-date learning materials than in traditional physical classes. If new inventions, discoveries, or studies prove something new or different from what was previously believed, the information will be spread quickly in online courses. Because everything is done virtually, making textual changes and updates to the material is relatively easy. This way, you always keep in step with the times and avoid studying material that is not relevant anymore.
12. Reduced stress
Because of the already-mentioned cost-effective nature of online learning, combined with the flexibility offered and the comfort of going through your studies from your own home, everything accumulates to provide you with a setting and experience that helps reduce stress. Not having to worry about being stuck in traffic, having to skip lectures due to work shifts, or the crushing weight of the cost associated with most traditional degree programs, will make you feel more secure and at ease as you go about your studies.
Of course, you will occasionally worry about your upcoming finals or unfinished projects. However, according to a survey, 63% of students who go through online learning agree that such a learning platform has helped reduce the stress associated with studying.
13. Convenient for Career Changes
Although career changes can be intimidating, with an online learning environment, you can easily make the transition as you can enroll in introductory courses and increase the complexity according to your pace. Online learning programs are the best course of action if you are interested in switching to another career but do not have the luxury of quitting your current job to pursue studies in this new field. They offer you plenty of space to continue with your established career while simultaneously working toward making a shift.
14. Expansion of Online Programs and Courses
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, online learning was widely considered a simple alternative to traditional face-to-face learning. However, since people have been forced into this new method for a while, there has been a significant surge in the popularity of online learning. With this increase in popularity and the number of students who demand it, so has the quality and variety of the online programs and courses.
Universities that did not offer online choices before now do. If you weren’t sure before, feel safe knowing that online learning is not some lesser version of a program but is just as efficient and credible as the traditional one.
15. Retain Information for Longer Periods of Time
Data gathered from a study showed that the majority of students agree that online learning has helped with their memory. 71% of the students fully agreed that online learning helps them retain information for extended periods, 21% somewhat agreed with this, and only 8% disagreed.
The students exclaimed that since online learning has helped with their motivation and communication, it has led to better engagement in class and thus memorization of information from classes.
Is an Online Degree Right for You?
Now, onto the million-dollar question: is an online degree right for you? Well, you are on the hot seat and must come up with the answer.
Whether such an approach is suitable for you or not depends on, well, you. The truth is that there are many benefits to online learning, as is the case with traditional education. If you are looking for a way to grow academically and professionally while having more space and finances to pursue other things as well, or if you prefer to work from the comfort of your home and have minimum physical contact with people, this is the option for you.
The important thing is to find a university that understands how best to make you feel comfortable and yet challenges you academically to grow into the best version of yourself.
How do I know if online education is right for me?
Determining whether online education aligns with your needs and lifestyle involves several considerations. First, it’s crucial to assess your self-discipline and time management capabilities. Unlike traditional classroom settings with structured timetables, online learning necessitates proactive behavior and strong organizational skills.
Secondly, consider your motivation and capacity to undertake independent learning. Online courses necessitate a high level of self-motivation due to the reduced face-to-face interaction with instructors and classmates, requiring learners to stay engaged and fulfill assignments independently.
Also, reflect on your preferred learning styles, potential obstacles such as limited internet access, and potential distractions in your home environment. If you thrive in a self-paced learning environment, find digital resources engaging, and are committed to achieving your educational goals, then online education could be a fantastic choice for you.
How do I know if an online degree program is credible?
Ensuring the credibility of an online degree program is crucial to receiving a quality education and having your degree recognized by employers or other institutions. Start by checking if reputable accreditation bodies accredit the online university or institution.
Accreditation ensures that the institution meets specific academic standards. You can verify the accreditation status on the institution’s website or through the database of recognized accreditation agencies.
Additionally, research the reputation of the online program and read reviews or testimonials from current or former students. Look for any complaints or red flags about the program’s legitimacy or the quality of education provided. Reputable online degree programs should have a track record of success, employ qualified faculty, and provide adequate student support services.
What technical skills do online students need?
Online students should have basic computer skills to navigate digital platforms effectively. This includes proficiency in using web browsers, word processing software, and file management. Familiarity with online communication tools like email, discussion forums, and video conferencing is essential for interacting with instructors and classmates.
Online learners should also be comfortable using learning management systems (LMS) where course materials, assignments, and grades are often accessible. If you lack technical skills, many institutions offer orientation or training sessions to help students become proficient in these areas.
How does online education work on a day-to-day basis?
In a typical online education setting, students access their course materials and lectures through the institution’s learning management system. Each course may have specific modules or units that students work through at their own pace within particular deadlines. They can view video lectures, read digital textbooks, and engage in online discussions with peers and instructors.
Assignments are often submitted digitally, and assessments may be conducted through online quizzes or exams. Communication with instructors can occur through emails, virtual office hours, or video conferencing. Some online courses may also require group projects or collaborative activities facilitated through various online tools.