Whether you're just coming out of high school or heading back to college to enhance or change your specialty, obtaining a degree online has many advantages. If you choose an online degree program from a recognized institution, your time and effort likely will be respected by current and future employers. So what are the benefits to this type of distance learning?
1. Confidence and self-esteem
Online learning allows individuals to learn to be a student again if they have been away for a while or have a less-than-stellar academic past. They can hone their skills in relative privacy, gradually gaining confidence as they improve.
Once the new-found confidence begins to show, the advantages may begin to flow even before graduation. Merely being enrolled in classes helps students as they apply new skills to current jobs. Of course, those with college degrees typically earn higher salaries than those without. But pursuing a degree of any kind -- associate's, bachelor's, master's or doctorate -- makes workers more valuable to their current employers.
Bosses respect the motivation and determination required to be a student while working full time. They may notice your new, eager outlook or your willingness to speak up more at meetings. Your problem-solving skills will improve, and you may bring fresh new information to the workplace.
2. Convenience of online classes
Distance learning is especially attractive for those with family obligations, full-time jobs or a residence far from a college campus. Even if you live close to a campus, the convenience of logging in from home is a real plus. Taking online classes also reduces or eliminates the costs of child care and commuting.
3. Advancement in current field
Some people get online degrees in the hopes of getting ahead in their current field. For example, if you are working as a practical nurse or school paraprofessional, you may want to move up to the next level. You know you have abilities, and you have certainly gained hands-on experience. Perhaps your peers and supervisors have commented on your excellent work and encouraged you to pursue a higher degree -- one that will allow you to receive the recognition and pay that you deserve.
4. Reduced vulnerability to economic disruptions
Simply put, those with degrees are more likely to find their job searches more successful than those without. Graduates tend to be less likely to lose their jobs in the next economic downturn.
Workers with a degree often are better able to change with the times. Workers who have three or four decades of work ahead of them must be prepared to reinvent themselves several times. Those who have a solid foundation in academics have a strong base for future training.
Workers who have one or more degrees can advance faster and further in their field. They also tend to be more successful in landing a new job if they relocate. Do you dream of leaving behind the frigid winters of northern latitudes for a sunnier climate? Do you have a spouse who is frequently transferred? Having at least one degree makes the move easier in either case.
More advantages to obtaining an online degree
Most people who earn a college degree feel a sense of satisfaction that few other accomplishments can match. They have learned to set goals and sacrifice immediate gratification for future benefits. They have opened their minds, and they see the world in new ways.
Degree-seekers meet and interact with people with whom they would not likely cross paths with otherwise. Degree-seekers have new mentors and an expanded network, and they come across opportunities they may not find elsewhere. Finally, they learn to work in an environment that resembles the working world, using technology to communicate, collaborate and research.
Pursuing an online degree has immediate advantages as well as long-term benefits. It requires a commitment of time, energy and money, so it is important to choose a reputable school. Enrolling in an online degree program associated with a traditional bricks-and-mortar college or university is one way to ensure that you receive a quality degree that will be respected by employers.