In the fall of 2020, around 7 million students (44 percent of all U.S. higher education students) were enrolled in exclusive online education courses, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. In addition, 75 percent, or 11.8 million undergraduate students, were enrolled in institutions offering a combination of in-person instruction and online instruction.
Benefits of an Online Degree
Some benefits of obtaining your college education online are:
- May Be Less Expensive
The average degree program at only or mostly online institutions is substantially less expensive than the average comparable on-campus degree program. This means that you are more likely to avoid heavy student debt with an online degree program than with a residential experience.
- You Take Your Classes at Home Online
Online programs are a huge benefit for introverts and homebodies. They are also ideal for students who would otherwise have to make a long commute to campus. Students have greater flexibility and can do their studies from the comfort of their own home.
- Easier to Accomplish While Raising Children or Working Full-Time
While participation in the classroom and other quantifiable student engagement measures could factor into post-course evaluations or grading, standard degree programs typically do not require in-person attendance except for lab work and exams.
What Can You Achieve With an Online Degree
There are many things you can achieve with an online degree, but a few include:
- Career Advancement
You can complete an entire degree program:
- While you work
- While you are in between jobs
- While you take the time to raise your family
Also, the online academic work can explain any gaps or discontinuity in your resume too. Earning an online degree can show prospective employers your ambition and eagerness and your desire to stay prepared and informed for new challenges.
- Geographical Flexibility
If you are living in a remote location, dealing with limited mobility, or looking for a certain degree program that is not available close by, it may be worth considering an online degree. You can complete many online degree programs remotely as long as you have the software your school requires and an internet connection.
- Improved Technical Skills
New computer skills are essential even with the most basic online courses as you learn to navigate various programs and learning management systems (LMS). The participation skills you will learn in your online degree program translate to many types of professions:
- Incorporating video/audio materials into assignments
- Creating and sharing documents
- Completing online training sessions
You may even receive a free tablet or laptop from your school.
Where Should I Get My Online Degree?
First, understand that legitimate programs are accredited. In fact, this is the most essential factor you should be looking for when considering online degrees. When schools are accredited, it means they meet outside regulating agency standards from the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) or the U.S. Department of Education. Typically the program will provide information on its brochure or website.
There are several types of accreditation. These are national, programmatic, and regional.
National accreditation is a federal agency approved. This accreditation's standards aren't as hard to meet as those of regional standards. Programs and colleges of this accreditation aren't as expensive either.
Programmatic accreditation applies to certain pre-professional programs such as:
- Health care
- Physical therapy
Regional accreditation is a local or regional agency approved and is more stringent and frequently more academically challenging.
There is also an extensive range of alumni networks for online graduates of mostly or entirely online institutions, like the University of Phoenix or Southern New Hampshire, for instance. When you have access to a vast alumni network, it's more likely you will make connections resulting in lucrative contracts or job offers.
If you are considering pursuing an online degree program, you have much to consider. Being prepared helps you make the most of the convenience and flexibility that is offered. You will want to do your research and see all the options you have available to you. This will also help you bust the myths related to costs, requirements, and acceptance of online programs. You will be a better fit to move towards your professional goals by setting realistic expectations for what you will experience, both as a student and after graduation.