For many graduating high school students, nothing could be more exciting (and possibly anxiety-inducing) than the prospect of beginning their adult life with a 4-year residency on a college or university campus. Yet, the popularity of staying at home and earning a degree through an online program continues to increase on a year-over-year basis. The reason for this is simple: online learning comes with its own set of unique advantages when compared to the traditional on-campus degree course of study.
- FLEXIBILITY AND CONVENIENCEWhen online students are asked, “what is the biggest advantage to online study?” the most popular response by far is “convenience.” Online degree programs and courses allow students to plan their studies around the rest of their lives, including work, family and other personal obligations. Students can also choose to do their weekly coursework at a time when they are most alert and their studying is most effective. Additionally, most schools understand that, due to other obligations, online students may be limited to a part-time course of study and require more time overall to earn their degrees. Other students may wish to complete their degree program in less time than most students take. Online programs are better suited to cater to these needs and wishes than their on-site counterparts.
- COST-EFFECTIVENESSAnother big advantage to online education programs is cost savings. Anyone who has looked into degree programs offered by a fully-online, for-profit school may be surprised to hear this, since those programs tend to be quite expensive. However, the tuition fees for online degree programs from more traditional not-for-profit colleges are typically close to or exactly the same as their on-campus degree programs. There are big savings to be pocketed, though, when it comes to associated costs such as those for food, housing and transportation.
- IMPROVED TECHNOLOGY SKILLSAlthough not as much a concern for younger students who have grown up in the digital age, online learning provides students with an excellent opportunity to learn new technology skills or sharpen old ones. Students will be required to successfully employ any number of online programs and tools including learning management systems, audio/video and discussion group programs, and file sharing and document-related software. Students will complete their coursework with a strong working knowledge in a range of technical skills that will translate effectively to the working world and impress prospective employers.
- IMPROVED LEARNING AND INTERACTIVE SKILLSSuccess in distance education requires a great deal of competence in the areas of learning ability, communications and interactive skills. It might seem counterintuitive at first, but online learning can provide students with a greater opportunity for the development of these skills than they would have in a traditional class setting. This is particularly true for those individuals who are reluctant to put themselves forward in a regular classroom. Many students will additionally find that they are better able to concentrate and retain information in a virtual environment that is free from typical classroom distractions.