Online Colleges Are More Flexible Than On-Campus Programs

by Genevieve Carlton

Updated August 18, 2022 • 3 min read is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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For nontraditional students, flexibility is often the most important factor when choosing a college.

Whether you are balancing school with a career or family responsibilities, an online college can make it easier to earn a degree. Online learners can take classes at any time, from any place.

In an online program, students can arrange courses around their schedule, meet degree requirements faster, and transfer more credits toward their degree. Choosing an online program rather than an in-person program can also save students money on commuting costs. Finally, distance learners often benefit from more flexible admissions requirements at online colleges.

This article walks you through the ways online colleges are more flexible than on-campus colleges.

Class Format

An online class format offers students greater flexibility than in-person classes. Online learners can choose between asynchronous and synchronous classes. Asynchronous classes operate without set meeting times, providing the greatest scheduling flexibility. Synchronous classes offer live sessions at pre-scheduled times, when distance learners can connect with instructors and other students.

Many on-campus college classes take place during normal business hours, which is hard for students who have full-time jobs. An online format allows students to take classes at night or on the weekend. Similarly, online programs often let students take self-paced classes, which can shorten their time to degree completion.

Finally, many online colleges use an open enrollment policy, which means more students can access higher education.

Where You Study

In an online program, degree-seekers can complete coursework from wherever is most convenient. That means they can study at home, in a coffee shop, or at a public library. In addition, online students can enroll in top programs without relocating. Working students and adult learners in particular can benefit from not having to move to earn a degree.

This flexibility also extends to when distance learners study. Working professionals and busy students can arrange classes around their schedule and obligations. Nurses, for example, often work irregular hours and may prefer an online format, where they can complete coursework around their work schedules.

How Fast You Complete Your Degree

Many online programs offer self-paced and accelerated options that help students earn a degree faster. In a self-paced program, learners complete courses at their own pace, giving them greater control over their schedule. It also allows those with prior experience or skills to earn credits faster. Accelerated programs also help students earn more credits per year.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Online Colleges Legit?

Accredited online colleges meet the same standards as traditional accredited colleges. Many brick-and-mortar colleges, including flagship state universities, also offer online programs. These programs often use the same curricula, teaching materials, and assignments as in-person classes, and online graduates receive the same diploma as graduates who attend classes in person.

Do Employers Take Online Degrees Seriously?

Yes, employers take online degrees seriously. Today, nearly 7 million college students take classes online as part of their degree. A growing number of employers treat online degrees the same as on-campus degrees, particularly if graduates attend an accredited school with a strong reputation for education.

What Are the Advantages of Online College?

An online college offers more flexibility and accessibility than an in-person college. Distance learners can enroll in top programs without needing to relocate, and online classes offer a flexible schedule for working professionals and students with obligations outside of school. In some cases, choosing an online learning format can also save students money.

Is It Easier to Learn Online or in the Classroom?

Some students find an online format easier than in-person options, especially when they can complete coursework from any place at any time. However, learning in an online environment is not identical to learning in a classroom. Distance learners need more discipline and organization to ensure their work gets finished, and some students may find that aspect challenging.

Header Image Credit: Tempura | Getty Images

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