How many students do you think take online classes? A few hundred thousand? Maybe a million at most? Try more than 6.3 million as of fall 2016, according to U.S. News and World Report. Online education keeps growing, which makes perfect sense.The internet has changed the way we order pizza, shop for groceries, and even search for people to date. Why wouldn’t it also change the way we get an education? There are unique benefits to online learning, too, as more and more students are discovering every semester. Here are three of those benefits.
You can learn at your own pace.
Traditional college classes have a set time. If your class schedule says Introduction to Ethics starts at 8 a.m., then you’re expected to be in your seat at 8 a.m. You’re also expected to be awake. In high schools, there’s a push for classes to start a bit later; even the American Academy of Pediatrics says the first bell shouldn’t ring any sooner than 8:30 in the morning. Many college students are still teenagers, so it’s no surprise that a lot of them aren’t going to be alert and ready to absorb information at such an early hour.
What if you’re not in your teens or early 20s anymore? You still might do better in the afternoon and evening than early in the morning. If you don’t believe that, there are facts to back it up. People who get up early and go to bed early are known as “larks,” while people who go to bed later are called “owls,” according to Fast Company. There’s no evidence that larks are intellectually superior to owls, either. In fact, the owls scored better in areas like processing speed and working memory. Whether you focus better at 6 a.m. or 6 p.m., you can trust that there are accredited online degree programs that will work for you.
You can study sans distractions.
A typical college classroom is bound to have more than a few distractions. Whether you’re in a room with 20 students or 200, you’re going to notice what’s going on around you. Some students will use class time to flirt, while others will watch videos on their computer, which in turn means other students will be watching those students watch videos. With all that going on, it makes sense that educators generally agree that smaller classes are better than larger ones, even if they don’t always agree on why that’s the case.
It doesn’t get much smaller than a class you take online. Other than possible discussion board assignments, you’re the only person you see interacting with the instructor. You’re going to sink or swim on your own. There’s not going to be anybody around you snickering as the anatomy and physiology professor delivers a lecture with facts about prostate cancer. Depending on the nature of the online course, there might not even be lectures.
You no longer have to fight for a parking spot.
It’s hard not to notice the fact that at parking is at a premium pretty much everywhere. In late 2015, the Los Angeles Times reported on ways that colleges were trying to lessen the parking crunch for students and faculty members. Students often have to get to campus a good half-hour or more before their first class to ensure they can find a parking spot. There’s a lot of circling the lot in vain, hoping against hope that someone will walk out to their car and free up a spot.
Campuses are looking at earth-friendly options like bike-sharing, but an even greener option involves not going to campus at all. Taking classes on your computer at home saves you the trouble of gassing up your car and fighting traffic to get to campus on time. It reduces your stress level and keeps you from having to pay hundreds of dollars for a parking pass that only lasts through the end of the semester. You can zero in on the school work rather than fret about the daily commute.