Written by: Thomas Broderick
Both recent high school graduates and nontraditional learners can take advantage of online classes. Online courses offer flexibility, affordable tuition, and a variety of academic opportunities. Distance learners who want to experience learning on campus can enroll in hybrid courses, which blend classroom instruction with online learning.
In 2019, Santa Clara University surveyed hundreds of distance learners about how online learning impacted them. Respondents answered questions regarding their ability to interact with peers and professors, how well they could study in a virtual environment, and whether they would recommend online learning to others. For most questions, more than 50% of respondents recognized and appreciated the benefits of online classes.
Continue reading to learn more about the benefits of online education and how it can help you achieve your education and career goals.
1. Scheduling Flexibility
For many learners, the primary benefit of online learning involves scheduling flexibility. Some programs allow degree- and certificate-seekers to start a course immediately. In other cases, students can select between a traditional 16-week course and an accelerated eight-week course. This page highlights accelerated courses’ advantages in a later section.
Although many online courses run asynchronously to provide maximum scheduling flexibility, some require learners to collaborate with peers at set times or meet with a professor during virtual office hours. Prospective students should research these requirements before signing up for an online course.
2. Lower Total Costs
Many prospective students overlook the cost advantages of online classes. Although online learners may pay the same per-credit tuition rate as on-campus degree- and certificate-seekers, they do not pay for on-campus housing or meal plans. Learners also save time and money by eliminating a commute.
Other cost savings include cheaper textbooks, especially if online learners can purchase digital versions. As long as online learners take enough credits to qualify as part-time students, they can apply for federal financial aid programs, such as grants and loans. Most colleges also allow online degree- and certificate-seekers to apply for institutional aid, including need-based grants and merit-based scholarships.
3. More Comfortable Learning Environment
With the ability to study anywhere, online learners can complete coursework at home, a coffee shop, or a library. This advantage of online learning allows students to work in the environment that best suits them. As new online degree- and certificate-seekers research different places, they should focus on those that offer a reliable internet connection and few distractions. Another factor to consider is space requirements, as some facilities’ tables may lack the space for a computer and reference materials.
4. Pacing Options
Before taking an online course, learners should understand three terms that can define the online learning experience. The first term, asynchronous, refers to a course that does not hold scheduled meetings. Students complete work at convenient times but must still meet assignment deadlines.