Distance learning is becoming an increasingly popular alternative to what many view as the “traditional” college experience. In 2015, six million students reported taking at least one online course, and nearly three million were enrolled in an entirely online degree program. Despite the increases in enrollment, many prospective students still wonder if earning a bachelor’s degree online will provide the same value as attending a brick-and-mortar university. Fortunately, the answer is, “Yes.”
Not only will earning an online degree help you reach your personal and professional goals, but an online program can offer many benefits that more traditional formats cannot. Here’s a breakdown of these advantages, to help you decide if earning your bachelor’s degree online is right for you.
Advantage #1—Increased Flexibility
For many adult learners, the thought of pursuing a bachelor’s degree while juggling work and family commitments seems daunting. Online degree programs, however, provide the increased flexibility you need, allowing you to attend classes whenever, and wherever, is most convenient.
With no fixed schedule to adhere to, you can choose to complete your coursework at the times when you’re most focused, whether that’s mid-day when your energy is high, or at night, after the kids are asleep. Plus, you can shift your schedule around as needed when life throws you a curveball, like an illness or last-minute work trip.
Without having to attend class in a fixed location, as long as there’s an internet connection, you can make progress toward earning your degree. You can also reclaim the time it would take to commute, find parking, and sit through a lecture, and spend it studying for that next exam or pursuing other personal goals. That additional time is no small advantage—those extra 20 minutes can really add up. With 24/7 access to your coursework, you may be able to reach graduation faster than those in a traditional program, depending on your specific program requirements.
Advantage #2—A Customized Learning Environment
Learning is not one-size-fits-all. By earning your bachelor’s degree online, you’ll be able to tailor your educational environment to meet your learning needs and help you get the most out of your courses. In your personalized learning environment, free of distractions, you can breeze through lessons you’re able to pick up quickly so you can spend more time on the concepts that you find more challenging while revisiting the material at any time.
Plus, while traditional students are limited to the teaching style of the professor, online students can choose to interact with course material in a way that’s most compatible with their learning style. Visual learners, for example, will digest the information best by watching a slideshow presentation or a “whiteboarding” video on the material, while strong readers may opt to leverage the textbook or print out a transcript of the lecture. For those who crave an interactive experience, there is the option to participate frequently in the online forums and discuss lecture materials with peers.
Advantage #3—Improved Accessibility
If you’re looking to earn your degree bachelor’s by attending in-person, you’re faced with two options: choose from local universities or uproot your life to move in pursuit of the degree. Fortunately, students are no longer limited to programs offered in their region. Online degree programs offer a third option, giving students access to schools around the globe without disrupting their current work and family obligations. These bachelor’s degree programs open up students to some of the most sought-after courses at leading institutions that would have otherwise been geographically out of reach.
Advantage #4—One-On-One Communication
Without regular in-person interaction to rely on, frequent online communication between students and professors is common and encouraged. There’s also more opportunity for professors to individually address your questions and concerns, without having to balance the needs of other students during class time. Unless you can catch them walking out the door, it can be difficult to schedule a mutually convenient time to meet with a professor on campus. In an online program, however, professors remain highly accessible via multiple channels, including email, phone, and discussion boards. This increased access to one-on-one feedback can help you get even more out of your courses.
Advantage #5—Exposure to Global Perspectives
In an online program, you have the opportunity to expand your worldview by interacting with students and professors from around the globe. Without being limited by geographical constraints, you’ll be exposed to a multitude of backgrounds, cultures, communication styles, skills, and perspectives that will expand your understanding of the world beyond what your local environment can provide. Using tools like FaceTime and Skype, you’ll work with these diverse individuals on group projects and interact in classroom discussions, providing you with valuable insights and giving you the opportunity to improve your cross-cultural communication.
Advantage #6—Better Self-Discipline
Without the need to attend physical classes, you’ll have to hold yourself accountable for joining virtual lessons, reading assigned material, setting aside time for studying, and meeting project deadlines. Along the way, you’ll develop better self-discipline and improve your organizational and time management skills.
If you aren’t already proficient with online communication platforms, you’ll become an expert in these technologies, which are important in most workplaces today. You’ll also be required to collaborate online with other students to complete projects regularly, bolstering your teamwork and problem-solving abilities. These, and other critical skills you’ll develop in an online degree program, will help you succeed well beyond your college years.
Are you interested in earning your bachelor’s degree online? Learn proven strategies for online learning success and explore Northeastern’s online bachelor’s degree completion programs.