Advantages of Online vs. Traditional Universities

When you’re thinking about going to school for the first time, or going back to get a more advanced degree, you’ll have to choose between a traditional campus college and an online alternative. Online education has seen huge growth in the past 20 years, and the continued exponential growth of computer power and the internet is enabling online colleges and universities to innovate constantly.

Why Choose an Online University?

Today’s online degree programs incorporate live video chats and lectures and other forms of both synchronous and asynchronous class sessions and material delivery, all enabled by the web. Here are a few of the many advantages to online universities that aren’t necessarily making the news.

1. Easy Credit Transferability

Online colleges typically accept up to 24 transferred credits from another college, but some will take up to half the required credits for your degree, as long as they aren’t core requirements for your major. For an indecisive student who jumps from school to school or major to major, this is great news, but it also works out well for people who need to take their education in chunks, rather than in one long haul.

2. Constant Access to All Previous Lectures and Materials

Maybe you’re a fast note taker with a killer memory, and anything a professor says in a lecture automatically goes into your vault, forever. Probably not, though. Fortunately, with online courses, there is a permanent record of all the discussions that happen in class; professors’ lectures are accessible in video or text formats, your assignments can all be downloaded and re-downloaded, and it is generally very easy for you to access any previous content from your classes. That means if you miss out on a session, or you aren’t great at picking out important points in a long lecture, you can always go back and review! This is one of the absolute biggest benefits of online classes versus classroom lectures.

3. Work At Your Own Pace

Most schools advertise the fact that you can work on your own schedule, even in your pajamas, but it isn’t just about scheduling school before the kids wake up or after you come home from your day job. At an online university, you have more flexibility to work at your own pace. So, even if you can only devote a limited amount of time to your schoolwork, you can still get your degree. You choose the number of classes you’re taking at a time, and you can even choose between colleges with different schedules baked right in. Some schools use traditional fall and spring semesters, but some use trimesters or quarters, or customized “block schedules” where each course takes only four or six weeks to complete. If making your own schedule is important to you, then it is likely that there’s an online college that has what you need.

4. Top Tier Schools For Less Money

Some of the most respected schools in the nation offer online programs, or at least a few online classes that you can take advantage of. Top tier schools like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Stanford University are starting to put their courses online at a fraction of the cost of getting a degree by attending those schools. Some of these courses will earn you college credit, and some are just available for learning purposes, but any education that you can get from these hallowed institutions will put you ahead of the pack when it comes time to get a job.

But What is Online College Actually Like?

If you’re interested in an online college, but not sure what it will actually be like, here are a few examples of activities you might have to do while applying for and attending online courses:

The Social Aspects of Online Education

If you’re looking for the traditional college experience of living in a dormitory, hanging out on a campus, and meeting dozens or hundreds of other undergraduate or graduate students socially, you won’t get it at an online university. Online schools are totally focused on academics, and because you aren’t living in close proximity with the other students in your classes, the likelihood of social relationships developing out of your schooling is basically nil. For most people who are seeking online education, you probably already have a busy schedule and plenty of friends, and maybe even a family to care for. With the flexible schedule of online schools, you can continue to devote energy and time to your existing social life, while also fitting in a degree.

Getting A Degree Either Way Will Improve Your Life

Whether you go the campus route or online route, getting a degree will definitely improve your life. Your employability over the long haul will increase by many times, and statistics show that the median weekly wage for someone with an associate’s or bachelor’s degree is hundreds of dollars higher than for someone with only a high school diploma or GED. College costs have gone up dramatically in recent years, so taking advantage of the convenience and savings available when taking online courses can help you offset the growing disparity between the growth of college costs and the growth of graduate earnings, as visualized in the graph below.

Additionally, getting a degree will lead you toward a fulfilling career, and give you more choices about how to spend your time and earn money. The rarer your skills, the more you will be able to negotiate your salary and benefits, and find a job you actually like doing. Choosing a degree in a high-growth field will increase your odds of finding a job that will pay what you ask.

Choosing A Degree and Applying Yourself

You probably already have a course of study in mind, if you’re looking into online colleges at all, but if you haven’t quite decided what you want to learn about, clicking through a few degree programs just to see what kind of classes are involved can help you choose a path. Visit the links below to find out more about various accredited online degree programs, and contact the schools themselves to receive detailed instructions on how to apply for their programs. Getting started is one of the hardest parts of getting an education, because it requires you to form new habits. Imagine the rewards that your degree can bring you to get motivated, and once you’re in classes, exploring the potential careers you might get after graduation can keep you excited through even the dullest of courses. Check out some of the schools below to get started!

Online Education Expert Dr. Marina V. Kostina
Answers Your Most Pressing Questions

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Popular Online Universities

A college education can open up many doors, and online programs provide students with unique flexibility and opportunities. Since it can be difficult to decide which schools to consider, we've provided a list of popular online universities below. If you're interested in learning more, feel free to click on any school name.

Kaplan University – Kaplan University is one of the largest accredited online colleges, with degree programs available in a wide range of subject fields. Kaplan University is committed to general education, a student-centered service and support approach, and applied scholarship in a practical environment.
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DeVry University – As a recognized and trusted name in education today, DeVry prides itself on its commitment to delivering quality education. Its programs are designed for students interested in the technology field or positions that require technical “know-how” like accounting and business management. DeVry has several campuses across the country but also offers online programs for students seeking even greater convenience.
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Ashford University – Pursue a course of study that covers the full spectrum of knowledge – from eMarketing and Cognitive Studies to Sustainable Enterprise Management. AU is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission, 985 Atlantic Ave, Suite 100, Alameda, California 94501, 510.748.9001,
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Walden University – Founded in 1971 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Walden University’s is a leader in student-centered online education. Those who previously may not have had the time to attend class can now earn a degree online from Walden in convenient and affordable style.
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Liberty University – Liberty University now represents the world’s largest evangelical Christian university both on campus and online. Earn an accelerated, accredited degree online through an efficient and flexible format that helps students achieve their academic and professional goals.
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