Why Traditional Students Go to College Online

Many online college students are non-traditional—they’re adults who’ve been out of high school for many years, some with full-time careers to juggle and families to care for in addition to managing a full-time course schedule. For these students, it’s easy to see why online degree programs are attractive—they’re flexible enough to allow nontraditional students to balance the many demands in their lives.

But traditional students—college-aged students just out of high school—also make the decision to attend college online. Here are a few reasons why.

Because it costs less. Tuition for online schools may or may not be less than that for traditional schools—like brick-and-mortar colleges, tuition varies wildly depending on the school. But factor in additional costs like housing, meal plans, commuting costs, and other expenses you’d rack up as an on-site learner, and you realize that your savings in an online degree program could add up fast. Online colleges allow students to save significant money.

Because it allows you to work while attending school. Many students choose to attend online classes because they’re flexible—and students have a much easier time pursuing work full-time while they go to school. If you’re putting yourself through college without help from parents, this can be a very important benefit. Other students simply don’t want to wait four years to enter the workforce. Starting while still in school can allow students to pay for college as they go and qualify them for higher-level jobs immediately upon graduation, rather than having to pay dues in entry-level positions.

Because it’s just as rigorous as traditional school. Online colleges are often accredited by the same regional accrediting agencies that certify traditional schools. A legitimate online college generally offers rigorous course loads and has the same expectations of their students in regard to assignments and testing as traditional schools do. In addition, online schools generally have the same expectations for professors—they hire academically qualified instructors with advanced degrees or extensive industry experience.

Because it allows you to attend any school, anywhere. Some students are limited in terms of geography—they may have to stay in their home state for personal reasons. Online education allows students to earn a degree from an out-of-state school they might not normally be able to attend. Many traditional schools, from Drexel University [http://www.drexel.com/] to Penn State [http://www.worldcampus.psu.edu/] and Boston University [http://www.bu.edu/], offer complete online degree programs as well as traditional academic paths.

Because online degrees are highly desirable in some industries. It’s a myth that online degrees are universally less accepted than traditional degrees. In some industries, especially high tech, online marketing and other cutting-edge technical careers, online degrees are expected and even encouraged. It’s also becoming more and more common for students to earn online MBA’s and other postgraduate degrees while working; many employers even pay for most or all of their employees’ tuition.

Because online degree programs produce tech-savvy students. Students in an online learning environment can’t help but become proficient in the latest technologies. Online learning programs often depend on the latest software applications as part of their instructional strategy, and in addition students are often expected to deliver assignments using a range of software, from Microsoft Word to Access or PowerPoint. Online students also become proficient at online communications methods such as forums, chat, email, podcasting and videocasting. These skills are valuable in a wide range of different careers.

Because online programs give students freedom. Many high school graduates take a year off to travel before going to college. With online degree programs, students don’t have to postpone college in favor of travel plans. They can travel while studying—or they can volunteer, start a business, or get a challenging internship that might lead to a career. Online learning is flexible enough to allow students to pursue their dreams before they graduate—without putting off earning their degree.

There are plenty of reasons why traditional students earn degrees online. With their added flexibility, cost-efficiency, and availability to students anywhere and anytime, online degree programs open up a range of possibilities for all students. Traditional students don’t have to be bound by traditional limitations like geography and time—they can study where they want and how they want, and often at a lower cost than what they’d pay for a traditional degree. Take all the benefits into account, and it’s no surprise that traditional and nontraditional students alike choose to go to school online.