It’s not easy to earn a degree, and no matter how you do it – or what subject it might be in – you should be proud of yourself for working so hard and having something to show for it in the end. Plus, of course, having a degree can help you find work, give you a better standard of living, and help you reach your goals in life, whatever they might be.
Yet being able to go to college and get a degree isn’t something that everyone is able to do. This could be for all kinds of reasons, such as the cost of college – it can be substantial, especially if you are living away from home – the fact that you have to work and therefore it would be difficult to study at the same time, or because you are coming to the idea of obtaining a degree later in life. If this is the case, you might have other responsibilities and commitments, such as having to work full-time or having children to take care of.
The issue in these cases is that you will potentially be missing out. If your ultimate dreams rely on you having a specific type of education and having a degree or other qualification, then you won’t be able to achieve those dreams, which means compromising. Although many people do this and are quite happy with the lives they make for themselves, it would be nice to think that everyone has a chance, at least, of making their dreams come true.
Technology has made this possible for many more people than ever would have been able to in the past. This is due to the advent of online colleges and courses. If you’re not familiar with this idea, it is simple; you learn at home rather than at a college campus. Your courses are all available to be downloaded or read at your leisure. In the end, you receive a degree the same as you would from a traditional college.
There can be a certain reticence about taking on this kind of learning. Is it as good as a regular degree? Will employers recognize it as a qualification? Will you learn as much as you would if you attended school?
The truth is that there are many different benefits to learning online. Read on to find out what they are so that if a college degree is what you need to make your dreams come true, you don’t miss out if you don’t have to.
Much More Flexibility From Self-Paced Learning
What is the structure of a traditional, physical college? Although each program will be slightly different, the structure would, for the most part, stay the same. That is, you would be given a timetable and then you would have to go to each class at a set time on specific days to learn whatever it is you need to learn. On top of this, there will be assignments and coursework to complete.
The structure is not a flexible one. It’s similar to a high school timetable, although with fewer classes (although, again, this will depend on what you are learning about). It is a rigid way to learn, and it means that trying to hold down a job at the same time or ensure you can be there for your child’s football game or school play is difficult. You’ll have limited time outside of school – especially if you are commuting – and it will be detrimental to your studies and education to miss any classes, so you really need to stick to that schedule as much as possible.
Online learning is very different. You’ll still be able to learn a lot, boosting your knowledge and ensuring you get an education that will help you in your career and life, but the structure is much more fluid and flexible. Rather than having to go to a physical building and sit in lectures that are given at dedicated times, you can log onto your online college at any time you want to and see the next lecture, read the next notes, or do the next assignment. In this way, you can live your life and obtain a degree, no matter how that schedule needs to fall to accommodate it.
This is ideal for those who work full-time, for example, and can’t afford to quit their jobs to go back to school but who need a degree in order to change their jobs. In the past, they might have been stuck in a career they didn’t like, or they would have had to manage on little to no income. Now they can work and study, ensuring that if they want to take one of the Rockhurst University online nursing programs, this would not be a problem at all.
That’s not to say working and studying wouldn’t be hard – it certainly would. However, if you are prepared to do the hard work and you can make a schedule that works for you, it could be the ideal opportunity to change your life for the better.
Better Time Management
Following on from the point above, when you are able to work to your own schedule, you will automatically have much better time management than someone who is given a routine to stick to and a timetable to follow. You might think it would be the other way around; those who have a schedule already will have to fit their other activities into that. Isn’t that good time management?
It can be. However, most of the time, all this results in is a struggle to get everything done and either missing out on things or turning in substandard work, either in your college course or at your job.
When you are in charge of your own schedule from beginning to end, it’s much easier to work out a good routine for yourself. If anything new comes along that you have to fit into your life, you can do this with much less effort than someone with a more rigid structure to follow.
In many cases, employers are interested in the additional soft skills that people are able to gain from attending college. One of the most important is good time management, and this is the skill that, above all others, an online course will be able to teach you – as well as give you a crucial education at the same time.
As well as learning good time management, another soft skill that an online degree will instill in you is good self-motivation. This is something that many employers will be pleased to see you demonstrate; it means they don’t have to micromanage you, and they can give you work to do and know you’ll get it done when they want it. This could put you ahead of the competition when it comes to looking for work, and in a competitive job market, any seemingly small thing could be what makes the difference.
An online degree will take as long as you need it to. If you don’t log on for a few weeks or even months, you can still go back and complete it (in most cases – this is different for some degrees, so it’s worth reading all the information before you apply). Unlike a traditional degree, you can go back and start learning again whenever you want to and pick up where you left off.
This is helpful when you are busy and need time away from studying, or if you know you need to take a break for your mental health. However, for those who are less self-motivated, it could actually mean that the course takes many years to finish – years longer than you might have expected.
Although this seems like a bad thing, it doesn’t have to be. It’s only bad if you don’t have the motivation to carry on and study even when you are busy or you don’t feel like it. If you can do this and complete your degree in good time, you can prove to any employer that you do have the discipline and self-motivation required to do well in your career as well as your studies. It’s a trait that can be hard to learn, but once you are able to achieve it, self-motivation can enhance your career and ensure you are not overlooked for promotions and jobs.
Learn To Work In A Virtual Environment
The world is changing, and a lot of that change has links to technology. After all, what is online learning if not connected to technology? It wouldn’t be able to take place at all if the tech wasn’t there to allow for it not only to happen, but to happen smoothly and easily for all students.
It makes sense to assume in that case that not only will your learning (online or otherwise) be reliant on a lot more technology, but wherever it is you end up working will too. Therefore, the more you know about online collaborating, virtual offices, remote working, and various technologically advanced communication tools, the easier it will be to segway from your education to your career. You’ll already have a lot of knowledge that your contemporaries may not have been able to pick up. Whereas they will have to scramble to learn this information, learning as they go and as they work, you will already have all that knowledge ready to go, ensuring you can get further ahead and do a better job.
Better Critical Thinking Skills
Critical thinking is going to help you get far in life. In essence, critical thinking is the ability to look at challenges objectively and come up with the ideal solution. This is not something everyone can do because, a lot of the time, they are caught up in the problems and they find it hard to be objective at all. This means their solutions are always colored by their viewpoint and what they want to achieve, and the challenges might not be met in the best way because of this.
One of the best things about online learning is that you need to think differently. You won’t necessarily have the same access to resources as someone in a classroom environment (in terms of being able to ask the tutor a question as soon as you think of it or getting an immediate answer). Therefore, you need to think in a different way to get to the solution. This might be self-learning, researching, or networking, for example.
Of course, you can still ask questions in an online program, and it’s important that you do. However, the responses might be slower as you are not interacting face-to-face, and this is something to bear in mind. It’s often what helps people become more critical in their thinking, as they need to think of solutions from a variety of different angles.
This point is a general one, and it may not be accurate for you. It will depend on the program you sign up for and the school you choose. However, in many cases, an online degree is less expensive than a traditional one. The main reason for this is not because the standard of teaching is any lower or because the degree is worth less but is instead because there are simply fewer overheads. When there is no college to heat, students to feed, or tutors to pay on a full-time basis, the costs can be managed much better, and those savings will often be passed to applicants.
On top of this, if you choose an online degree, there will be no need to pay for school accommodation, additional food, parking, gas, public transport, and so on. This can reduce costs substantially, and even if the course you have chosen is not much less expensive than a regular course in a physical college, these additional cost savings can add up to a lot, especially when you consider that you would be spending money over the course of two, three, or even four years.
All in all, an online course has many benefits, and it should certainly be something to consider when you are choosing the right school for you and your needs.