You can’t spend long in the education marketplace these days without hearing about online degree programs. And in a world which places great store by qualifications and professional skills, a learning option which allows students to study at a distance is becoming a popular alternative to the traditional ‘bricks and mortar’ setting of traditional college courses.
There are many reasons why some high school graduates don’t go straight on to college. Some can’t afford it, some may prefer to go directly into the world of work — and for others, the time may simply not be right for them to commit to more years of academic study.
But later on, such obstacles are often easier to overcome, and taking a degree can have a greater appeal. There are online courses that allow students to earn a degree, a diploma or certificate in a wide variety of subjects.
Here are five reasons why distance learning degree programs are proving so popular:
1. Family Responsibilities
If you’re a stay-at-home parent, you may well not have the chance to take time out and study as a traditional college student. Yet many moms and dads foresee a time when their child-caring responsibilities will diminish as their children grow up.
Going back to work can be an attractive option for parents like these, and distance learning offers one way to acquire new professional skills as preparation for a return to a career — or entry into a new one.
2. Professional Development
Many online courses focus on the knowledge and skills needed for career advancement and reach out to students seeking professional development. And many working people see the value of certificates (rather than full degrees) as a way to develop their expertise in key areas that relate to their current jobs. Students save time by focussing on specific disciplines — and can develop their resume as a result.
3. Following Your Passion
It’s no surprise that many online degree courses cater to the needs of professional and vocational training. But let’s not forget the importance of personal development and enrichment for people of all ages and backgrounds. Many enjoy the process of learning for its own sake, and gain self-esteem and a sense of purpose from meeting the challenges of advanced study. It can provide important mental stimulation in later life and open up new possibilities and activities.
4. Cost Cutting Issues
Tuition fees are a major consideration for almost any student, and most have to manage on a strict budget — so cutting costs is a key skill in making ends meet. Studying from home can help to save money by reducing travel costs such as bus and train fares, fuel expenses and parking fees. Online students also save when they don’t have to pay room and board charges.
5. Time is Money Too
For anyone leading a busy life, time is a form of currency — one that needs to be sensibly managed and wisely invested. Full time students in a traditional degree program normally have the opportunity and freedom to benefit from the full range of activities that a college campus can offer, inside and out of the classroom.
But professional people and busy home-makers need to organize their time differently — perhaps taking classes in the evening or early in the morning. Many online degree programs offer ‘asynchronous’ classes — so that you can create your own study schedule.
By: Nigel Patterson
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