Why Online College? Flexibility

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For many students—especially working adults—online college is not only the best option for a high quality education, it’s the only option. But why is online college better for some students? And what are the benefits of online education? We asked these very questions to the applicants for TheBestSchools.org $1,000 Online College Scholarship. Among the common themes to emerge from our pool of worthy applicants, flexibility ranked particularly high. In one testimonial after another, respondents explained that flexibility made online education both the best option and the only option for a college or graduate degree.

If you’re seeking a flexible and high-quality online education, start with a look at The Best Online Colleges.

Otherwise, read on to find out how online students are making the most of their newfound educational flexibility:

 Non-traditional Students Must Balance Work and Education

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, nearly 3 million students in the U.S. are currently taking at least on online course. A significant percentage of these students are “non-traditional” students—those who are age 25 or older. This population of adult learners is typically comprised of individuals who must balance work and life with their educational objectives. Flexibility is an absolute must.

Russell, studying for a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice Case Management from American Intercontinental University, explains that “The flexibility of an online college is its greatest perk. Being a nontraditional student automatically entails that I am working for a living. That being the case, it would have been impossible for me to further my education at a traditional campus college.”

Russell’s case is not unusual. Many working adults would truly have no way of pursuing a college education or a degree program without the flexibility of online access. If you are a working adult and you’re considering a jump into online education, be sure to capitalize on your professional background. Find out how you can get College Credit for Work Experience.

 Online Education Allows You To Focus on Professional Development

For many working adults, online college is not simply a path to degree completion. It may be a stepping stone in a career that is already well underway. Many working professionals view online courses as the best way to advance within an organization or field without disrupting the progress they’ve already made.

Jessica, a student at Arizona State University said, “I chose to pursue my Electrical Engineering degree online so that I may have the flexibility in my schedule necessary to simultaneously focus on my professional development. Traditional universities rarely offer evening classes for 100% of the courses required for a degree, which makes maintaining a consistent work schedule very difficult for students. The expectation for all students to prioritize education above professional development is not a realistic model. My program allows me to earn the money I need to support myself and my education needs, while also garnering valuable experience in my field. Although more challenging at times, online education is my most viable option as an undergraduate in my late twenties.”

Online college offers developing professionals the scheduling flexibility to pursue critical, sometimes even necessary, degree credentials without sidetracking their career goals.

If career development is your top priority, find out which online degrees offer the best job growth potential.

 Busy Parents Benefit from Online Course Scheduling

Work and career aren’t the only things that non-traditional students must manage. Nearly 2 million college students must also balance the responsibilities of parenting with the pursuit of an education. This balance carries an array of challenges, some of which can even threaten to derail degree completion altogether. The flexibility afforded by online courses offers at least one way of offsetting, or at least managing, these challenges.

Sabrina, a student of Applied Behavioral Analysis at the Florida Institute of Technology told us that “I am a single mother to a child with special needs. I also am an exceptional student education teacher at a local community high school working with students who have developmental disabilities, autism, emotional behavioral disturbances, and so on. My son’s therapies after school leave me very few hours to drive to a campus and attend regular classes. I was able to obtain my bachelors degree through an online accredited program called Western Governors University and I was very happy with the curriculum and quality of education that I received. I felt that it prepared me extensively for my current career. The online program allowed me the flexibility that I need to be the mother that my son needs me to be and the teacher my students need.”

If you’re looking for strategies and support as you balance the challenges of education and parenting, check out:

 Asynchronous Learning Models Create Access

Online education is inherently flexible when compared to traditional education. But some strategies are more flexible than others. Broadly speaking, online education can be broken into two categories: Synchronous learning is online or distance education that happens in real time; whereas asynchronous learning occurs through online channels without real-time interaction.

There are pros and cons to each model, but it’s worth noting that asynchronous learning models are inherently more flexible because they allow you to build your educational responsibilities—lectures, studying, exams, etc.—around other less flexible commitments like work and family.

Rhianna, a Master of Social Work student at Indiana State University, explains that “As an older student I have already started a life of working and supporting myself. I am at an entry level position in my field and am wanting to continue gaining experience while completing my graduate degree. I am from a working class family and do not have the luxury of not working full time while being a student. An online degree course allows me the freedom to participate in class and assignments outside of the normal school hours.”

To learn more about the difference between asynchronous learning and synchronous learning in online education, check out Synchronous Learning vs Asynchronous Learning In Online Education.

 Opportunities for Accelerated Completion

Flexibility doesn’t just mean that online education can be built around your schedule. It also means you can get it done at the speed that makes sense for you. If you’re a working professional or a busy parent, your top priority might be to get your degree fast and get on with your life.

Adriana, working toward an M.S. in Communications at the Purdue Global University, “chose to pursue an online degree program because of its flexibility. Being a full-time working mother and wife, an online degree program makes sense because it would allow me the opportunity to be there for my family when I need to while still enabling me to continue my education and enhance my skills. That’s why Purdue University’s online Master’s of Science in Communication is perfect for me. Not only is it exclusively online, but I can finish the course in as little as 20 months, allowing me to earn a graduate degree, help me become more of an asset at the company I am employed with and provide a more financially stable future for my loved ones.”

For a look at some other ways to speed up your online education so that you can move on with your life and career, check out:

If you’re looking for other ways to enhance the flexibility of your online education, consider searching for an online college or university in your state. This could be the path to more affordable in-state rates, opportunities for hybrid degree programs, and more!.

Start your search with a look at The 100 Best Colleges & Universities by State 2019.