Posted November 15, 2013 by

5 Reasons Why Studying Online Just Makes Sense

Women studying together in a computer lab

Women studying together in a computer lab. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

As the recession continues to fluctuate and the job market becomes more and more competitive, it’s essential to have every edge you can when launching a new career or reinventing yourself in a new field.  Obviously, education can be just this advantage, but dedicating  four years or more to obtain a degree is undesirable for some, and next to impossible for others.  Luckily, the online education is gaining traction and redefining how we learn:  in addition to the many for-profit virtual universities cropping up, a full 77% of existing brick-and-mortar schools now offer viable distance learning solutions.  Here are five major talking points in favor of online learning:

1. It’s Cost- Effective

On the one hand, there is a commonly believed myth about online education that isn’t always true: tuition costs are significantly lower. While this is often the case, it’s totally contingent upon the virtual and brick-and-mortar institutions you’re comparing. However, when it comes to tallying the bottom line, online studies will almost always win hands-down. Commuting or relocating are out of the picture, and hard-copy material costs are either reduced or eliminated altogether.

2. It’s Ideal for Working People

About one-quarter of full time students also work full-time. Whether you’re working your way through college for the first time or racking up an additional degree as part of a later-in-life career transition, it can be hard to balance a job with class time. Especially when you’re fulfilling specialized requirements, the limited offering of mandatory classes can demand that you bend over backwards to reschedule. Additionally, the standard practice of scurrying to night school after a full work day is a recipe for exhaustion, which undermines academic performance — and defeats the whole point.

3. Fast-Track Specialization Options

Traditionally, college has been viewed as a time to “expand your horizons;”  a more leisurely stroll through four years of major requirements and general education courses.  While the liberal arts model of university is admirable, it simply isn’t for everyone. While we all want to be well-rounded individuals, this is a task that can be accomplished over time and on our own terms, rather than through a time-consuming — and expensive — load of courses unrelated to one’s major. For students who view college with a more vocational attitude, online courses are ideal:  a highly-focused path such as a pharmacy technician, for example, can be completed in only 12 months.

4.  Less Rigid Deadlines

The 2012 Survey of Online Learning conducted by the Babson Survey Research Group and the College Board finds that the number of students that take at least one class online has risen past 6 million. One of the reasons for this may be the less time sensitive nature of online class work. While this isn’t always the case, online courses are generally a better option for more self-directed students. After all, as long as you finish the appropriate assignments and exams, fulfilling these requirements at a specific hour and date shouldn’t really matter.  And this isn’t simply an invitation to procrastinate — in fact it can be just the opposite.  For students who like to move ahead of the curve and concentrate on the rest of their lives, online courses usually let you turn in assignments early with no penalty.

5.  It’s More Parent-Friendly

Often, when parents take time off to raise children, this can be a major stumbling block in a career trajectory:  the parental hiatus appears as a gaping hole in one’s resume.  Earning a degree at home in a related field during this time away from work not only suggests that you’re doing to best to stay in touch with changes in your area, it’s also just a simple sign that you take your career seriously.

All of this is not to say that online education should replace traditional universities, which will continue to play their traditional roles.  For some the full immersion in a college campus is irreplaceable.  However, for those wishing to gain career-oriented accreditation on their own terms, it’s hard to argue with the advantages of the brave new world of the classless university.

Vera M. Reed is a freelance writer and former elementary school educator. She has recently started researching online schooling and has become a huge proponent of it. Vera hopes you enjoy this article and hopes it provides some compelling options for students looking for alternative studying methods!

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