Online learning has been around for quite a few years now, and during the COVID19 pandemic, it became clear to see just how useful it has actually become. The ability for colleges and schools to use online learning platforms to quickly and easily move classes, lectures, and other learning materials to an online space that students were able to remotely access from the comfort and safety of their own homes made it possible for millions of students around the world to easily continue their education without disruption, even during a global pandemic.
Even in pre-COVID times, online degree programs were a popular option among many students who preferred the flexibility and freedom of being able to learn from home in a way that suited them best. Since the pandemic and the moving of many degree programs online, an increasing number of students are considering either continuing online learning or pursuing online learning for future educational pursuits. While college campuses do have their benefits, there are many reasons why more and more students have decided to forgo the campus experience in favor of the more flexible and often cheaper experience that comes with distance learning.
Flexible Learning That You Can Tailor to Your Needs:
Many online students are full-time employees or parents, and there’s a good reason why students who have these often big commitments in life tend to prefer this type of learning over others. If you’re currently working 9-5, chances are that your working hours are going to clash with lectures, and you’ll need to seriously think about how you’re going to rearrange things to suit your commitments if you are going to study on campus. If you have kids, then you might need to arrange more babysitting services or bring in friends and family members to help with things like the school run if your lectures or classes are happening at the same time. On the other hand, most online degree programs from Saint Bonaventure University can be molded to fit around your commitments, rather than the other way around. They provide busy students with the option to tailor their learning times and schedule to suit their lives and make sure that the disruption that comes with getting a degree is minimal.
Reduce the Opportunity Cost:
The opportunity cost of learning refers to the money that you won’t earn while you’re in college. If you are already working full-time, this might mean dropping to part-time hours or completely giving up your job so that you can make the time that you need to study. Some students quit their well-paying full-time job and do work like waiting tables or delivery driving to keep themselves going financially throughout their education but miss out on the amount of money that they would have been earning had they continued full-time.
While the investment is often worth it for many degree programs due to the career opportunities and increased earning potential that they will provide for the future, it is not surprising that many students would rather avoid a high opportunity cost where possible, especially due to the rising cost of attending college overall. While it will be a lot of hard work and will require grit, dedication, and determination, it’s entirely possible to study for your degree online while continuing to work full-time, meaning that there’s no opportunity cost for you to worry about.
Save Money Overall:
Aside from avoiding a reduction in earnings, studying online means that you can save money on all those other costs that students will often rack up over the two to four years that they are attending lectures and classes for a program on-campus.
While you can’t get away from tuition fees unless you are lucky enough to be attending school on a full scholarship, studying online does mean that you can avoid a lot of expenses that would otherwise be necessary.
Since you’ll be studying from home, for example, you don’t need to worry about the cost of commuting – there’s no need to fill your car with extra gas to get to campus, pay for parking on campus or buy tickets for public transport to get to your classes on time.
Food on campus is another cost that can quickly add up – even if you take packed lunches, coffees and snacks can add up in cost over the year.
In addition, you may have less to pay in lab costs if you are taking a science-based degree as experiments are likely to be held online where you’ll watch or interact with somebody else doing the experiment rather than conducting it hands-on yourself, either some or all of the time.
The cost of textbooks might also be cheaper since eBook versions may be more accessible to you as an online student.
Attend the College of Your Choice:
Ideally, any student would be able to attend the college that they really want to study at – but this isn’t always the case, especially if you have commitments in your current hometown like work or family that you wouldn’t be able to just up and leave to get your degree. Whether you’re a carer for an elderly parent or grandparent, have children or your own that you’d rather not move around to different places during their key developmental stages, or are working in a job in your hometown that you want to hang on to, there are several factors that might play a part in holding you back from attending the college you want even if you are offered a place on a program.
The good news is that with online degree programs, you will have more college options to choose from with fewer obstacles standing in your way. Since programs are taken online and from home, it doesn’t really matter if the campus is physically located thousands of miles away from you since you do not have to be there.
Skills You Can Gain From Studying Online:
If your main aim in getting a degree is to improve your employment and career prospects, developing new skills and improving your current transferable skills are likely to also be a big part of the process. Many employers today are looking for candidates with a range of transferable skills that you may be able to improve by studying for your degree online rather than attending classes on campus. Skills like self-management, time management, research, self-study, and non-verbal communication skills are all ones that you are likely going to be pushed to use a lot in order to succeed when you are studying for your degree online. Some of the top skills that employers want that you can develop as an online student include:
Communication skills are in high demand across employers in a wide range of industries. Being able to communicate effectively with others and listen actively to clients, customers, employees, colleagues, patients, and other people that you work with is key whether you’re working in business, social care, healthcare, communications, and many other industries. As an online student, effective communication is key in order to not only get your own points across but to make sure that you have understood what others are communicating to you, often in non-verbal ways across digital channels.
Good time management skills are required of any online student, especially as you will be working to manage your own time and devise your own schedule based on what works best for you. Online students are typically trusted to manage their time and study in a way that suits them best, and there are not usually any set lectures or classes to attend, leaving them in charge. Developing these skills while getting an online degree will prepare students for various career options in the future that are self-led including remote working careers and more.
Research and Self-Study:
For the most part, online degree programs are based on self-study. While tutors and professors are always going to be an email away when you need advice, you will generally be provided with the information that you need and expected to conduct your own research and spend time learning. While this is true of any degree program including online and campus-based programs, the lack of in-person lectures and classes means that developing self-study abilities is often even more important for online students who want to succeed in their chosen subject.
Self-Motivation and Discipline:
When you’re an online student, it’s often up to you to get yourself working. There are going to be distractions and the option to procrastinate is always yours for the taking. As a result, students who succeed often tend to come out with excellent discipline and self-motivation skills that they can take into any future career.
While COVID19 might have made online learning mandatory for a while, there are many reasons why some students have decided to continue learning in this way even post-pandemic.