Last updated on November 25th, 2023.
Nowadays, more and more meaningful life events are taking place in an online setting. As such, the idea of online college is intriguing to many. Yet while this educational path is growing in popularity, there are still many reasons why people are wary of taking courses on the internet.
In this article, we will share five strong reasons why online college is totally worth it. But before we do, let’s address a few of the most common questions people have about this alternative form of education.
Is Online College Even Worth It?
For some reason, there is a common, yet untrue, belief that online college is not worth it. However, the truth is a far different story. When discussing the true worth of any activity, you’ll need to consider when that activity will cost you versus how much it stands to benefit you in the long run.
The good news is online college is a worthwhile venture. While not traditional, this approach can grant a great deal of convenience to those who take it. But before you embark on that journey, you need to make sure you know the actual value of an online degree and how it will benefit you in the future.
In considering those factors, you’ll find multiple compelling arguments for why online college is just as viable an option as in-person learning. To uncover those reasonings, let’s begin with understanding what real value an online degree holds.
Does an Online Degree Have Value?
It’s no surprise that not all online degrees are alike and that they each hold varying degrees of usefulness. However, any prospective online student needs a reliable way to measure the value of the degrees they intend to pursue before they begin pursuing them. Thankfully, there is a relatively easy way to judge the quality of an online degree in advance. In making that judgment, here are the three criteria to recognize:
- Overall Reputation: The value of any degree depends on the institution’s overall name recognition and reputation that gives it out. If you attend an online college that is well known and respected, your degree will carry a similar degree of prestige.
- Physical Location: While some colleges are online-only, many are run by schools with physical locations. In general, online programs offered by schools with physical campuses are more credible.
- Program Accreditation: Accreditation may be the single most important factor when choosing an online college. Many professions, such as engineering and landscape architecture, require practitioners to receive a degree from an accredited program. If the program you complete has up-to-date accreditation, it should not matter whether it was online or in-person.
Just like there are some in-person degree programs that are better or worse than others, the same is true for programs you complete online. But if a program you are looking at meets the three standards listed above, then it is likely a good option.
Do Employers Look Down on Online Degrees?
The opinions of different employers regarding online degrees will vary. While you will still find some that downplay the credibility of online degrees, the number of people holding that belief is on the decline. Today, most employers are able to discern the relevance of your degree regardless of whether you got it online.
As we alluded to in the previous section, there are a few qualifications that will make it clear that your degree is legitimate and respectable. Most importantly, you should make sure the program you take has all relevant accreditations for the field you wish to enter. Ensuring your degree comes from a reliable college is also highly beneficial to you.
5 Reasons Why Online College is Totally Worth it
Now that we have addressed a few of the most prevalent concerns that people have about online college let’s explore the main reasons why this educational path is a worthy option. Here are the five advantages that online college grants you as well or better than other forms of learning:
- More freedom and flexibility for students
- Lower overall costs compared to in-person college
- Unique opportunity for professional development
- Custom course pacing
- A chance to show you a determined and committed learner
At first glance, those benefits may seem too good to be true. But what you will be pleased to find is that all those outcomes and more are likely to come your way if you choose an online college. In the next few sections, we’ll take a deeper dive into what each of those five main pros of online college.
1. Online College Grants You More Freedom
The top-selling point for online college is that it gives students an incredible amount of freedom that traditional college does not. Much of that freedom is easy to understand. When you are taking an online course, you can conduct your learning in any location you like. In many programs, you will also have some flexibility regarding the courses you take and your class schedule.
Many online courses will consist of video lectures as well as a combination of online learning resources. In most cases, you will have the choice of how and when you access those materials. That gives you the opportunity to schedule your schooling around the other important aspects of your life.
For those reasons, an online college is a wonderful option for those who currently have a full or part-time job or those who are raising children. In those scenarios, an online program may be the only way you can meet your educational goals while maintaining your other essential responsibilities.
2. Online College is Cost-Effective
One of the primary deterrents for those considering college is the fact that higher education can be extremely expensive. In fact, the average debt of those who borrow money to go to school is just under $40,000. Taking on that level of debt can impact your personal financial health for decades to come and has become a major challenge for many current and former students.
While there are many fees that contribute to the overall cost of college, many of them relate directly to room and board and the educational institution’s need to maintain their physical infrastructure. Both of those costs have an impact on the amount each individual student needs to pay.
In the case of online college, overall costs are often much lower. Much of this has to do with the fact that online students don’t need to reside at their colleges and also don’t need to make use of a physical campus. As such, the operating costs for online colleges tend to be lower, and so does the amount a student must pay to attend.
3. Online College is Great for Career Advancement
As we noted earlier, the high levels of freedom and flexibility are what make online college so popular for so many different types of people. This aspect of online college is especially beneficial to those currently investing time in a professional career.
For many occupations, it is highly encouraged that professionals continue to advance their education even after they begin working in their fields. Gaining new degrees and certifications is a way that many professionals manage to stand out from their colleagues. This then leads them to gain access to:
- Higher wages
- New employment opportunities
- Advancements within a single company
Nearly any professional would want those opportunities. But they don’t want to leave their current jobs to get them. For that reason, online college is often the best option. Those who are so inclined can maintain their day jobs and schedule their course work for their evenings and weekends. That way, they can maintain their income while improving their expertise.
4. Online College Goes at Your Pace
One of the greatest challenges that students face is the struggle to find a learning environment that meets their unique needs. One of the most critical elements of that environment is the speed at which learning takes place. Naturally, each student will learn at a different pace, and each instructor will teach at their own pace as well.
Those natural tendencies open the door to the possibility that the classroom in which you learn covers material much faster or slower than you prefer. At a faster learning pace, there is a risk that you may miss some important information, while slower paces may cause you to be bored and miss the chance to learn to your greatest capacity.
Either of those situations is less than ideal, but online college offers a solution. Online coursework lets you determine the pace of your learning. If the class is moving too fast, there is nothing preventing you from pausing your lecture video to take some notes or return to an earlier part of the lecture. Conversely, if you feel you understand the current topic, you can often skip ahead if you feel the need.
5. Online College Builds Dedication and Discipline
The final reason why online college is worth it is that it will change you for the better. When taking an online course, you will experience greater responsibility for your learning than in other settings. While traditional learning included rigid scheduling that is easy to follow, online learning requires you to be more engaged and make decisions about how and when you will study.
This personal responsibility will challenge you to improve your level of dedication and discipline. If you are successful in your program, you can know with full confidence that your positive results come from your own commitment and drive to learn.
It does not necessarily matter what courses or programs you take. The common result is that you will emerge from your coursework with a greater understanding of what it takes to motivate yourself to the point of success. That ability and confidence will help you in all aspects of your life, educational or not.
Another great benefit here is that completing an online course shows that you are a motivated learner. That quality alone may be enough to convince your next employer that you are interested in doing great work and changing your life for the better.
There are numerous reasons why online college is worth it, and the five in this list are some of the strongest ones. Remember that there is no reason to believe that online degrees are invaluable or that employers will dismiss them. Instead, getting an online degree is an excellent way to improve your skills and knowledge in a suitable way for you.