When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the world’s education system seemed to go virtual overnight. While it has taken time for some students and teachers to adjust, there have been many enjoying the cultural shift to online learning. What was once considered an option became a requirement, and in the blink of an eye. Of course, there are still students who long for the traditional, on-campus college experience. If you are looking to start a degree program, you may be asking yourself, “Is online college right for me, or should I go the traditional route?” This is top-of-mind for many college students right now.
According to recent reports from EducationData.org, about one-third of postsecondary school administrators plan to continue offering remote and online course options beyond 2021, even after campuses have re-opened. Almost 40 percent of college freshman plan to stay at home and take all of their classes online, too. About 30 percent of students, meanwhile, said they’d prefer to take classes in a hybrid format, with some in-person and some online instruction.
Online school is a popular choice for many students because they enjoy the independent approach that is offered, as compared to traditional in-classroom learning. Some students, however, have a hard time with self-discipline and find they are more successful with on-campus classes. This was a very common challenge during the pandemic, with over 40 percent of students admitting that staying motivated was a major problem in their online program.
Online learning is an individual choice that you must make for yourself before starting your college career. Read about the pros and cons of online school, to determine if it is a good fit for you. As explored below, there are many benefits of online college, but it requires a certain skill set to succeed in this type of program. Find out if online college is right for you!
The Benefits of Online School
There are many benefits of online learning, as most college students have learned over the past year and a half. The following qualities attract many students to online learning programs:
- Flexibility & Convenience. This is, arguably, one of the most common reasons students love online school. With a lineup of online courses, students may continue working part-time or full-time jobs, taking care of household responsibilities, and fulfilling family obligations – all while completing their necessary coursework. With an online college, you can study at a time that works for you and your schedule. If you work during the day, you can study at night. If you work a second or third shift, you can find time during the day to complete your assignments. Meanwhile, with a traditional classroom format, you are tied to the class schedule, and there is typically a commute. With online college, your couch can be your classroom and your lectures or study sessions may be completed on a schedule that works for you.
- Personalized Experiences. In a traditional classroom, students often feel uncomfortable asking questions aloud. They may also feel they are competing for the professor’s attention, particularly at the end of class. Online college removes this awkward element and offers students more of the individualized attention they crave. With an online setting, students communicate with the professor via email and distance learning tools, such as Blackboard.
- Comfort & Accessibility. Learning in a familiar environment, like home, can feel much more natural to some students, who prefer not to sit at a desk surrounded by peers. For many, online school is also more accessible than an on-campus setting, as it eliminates any challenges with commuting, parking, and in-person commitments. It is also helpful in balancing the other obligations we mentioned – like work and family. Students who have young children at home can study at night while the kids are asleep, without worrying about childcare to leave and attend an evening class. For many parents and busy working students, a college degree would not be possible without an online option.
- Affordability. Online college is typically more accessible than in-person school from a financial standpoint, as well. Did you know that online classes can cut the cost of learning in half? Online schools have fewer expenses and amenities than college campuses – such as student housing, campus staff, and dining halls. By pursuing a degree online, students can also cut down on their own personal expenses, such as gas, parking, food, childcare (as mentioned above), and other unexpected costs that come with commuting to campus. Even pre-pandemic, over half of college students said that affordability was the “most important factor” in their decision to enroll in an online school.
Skills to Succeed in an Online School
We already know that an online degree can be pursued at your individual pace, on a schedule that works for you. Along with this freedom, comes responsibility. There is no professor taking attendance each week or reminding you to set down your smartphone and focus. You are, instead, in charge of your own learning and workflow. It is up to you to manage your time wisely and get the work done on your own timeline. Some students find this to be challenging, and prefer the structure of an in-person classroom. However, many enjoy the level of autonomy in an online course. If you have strong time and project management skills, online school can be incredibly rewarding – particularly because you will be building your independent skills in order to get the work done. Students who are successful in this type of learning often walk away with the following skills:
- Time management
- Work-life balance
These skills are considered invaluable in the workplace, as many adults today struggle with these exact elements in a variety of professions. Many of these skills are often put on lists of “goals” for which employees strive to improve upon, and employers list as desired.
The Best of Both Worlds
If you are still wondering, ‘Is online college right for me?’, you may be happy to learn that there is a third option: hybrid learning! What is the hybrid learning option? Just like it sounds – hybrid learning is a combination of both online and in-person classes. Some postsecondary institutions, such as Goodwin University, offer a blended or “hybrid” format for students in need of flexibility. This simply means that some courses are offered on-campus, while others may be taken online. All classes – no matter how you take them – are put towards your degree.
Many students enjoy striking a balance between online and traditional classroom learning, getting the best of both worlds. It enables you the flexibility of an online school, as well as the in-person time that many crave during their college experience. Online resources will be readily available to you to support your post-secondary schooling. Additionally, through the hybrid option, you can still meet with professors face-to-face, collaborate with peers, and reap the benefits of online college.
If you are ready to launch your career with an online college degree program, get started today! Learn about the flexible degree programs offered at Goodwin University by calling 800-889-3282 or visiting us online to request more information.
Goodwin University is a nonprofit institution of higher education and is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Goodwin University was founded in 1999, with the goal of serving a diverse student population with career-focused degree programs that lead to strong employment outcomes.