Many Americans affected by the Great Recession are finding that going back to school to either increase their chances of keeping the career they have or to learn a new trade is the only way they are going to survive in the new economy.
Many of these students, many who have not been in the classroom for many years, will find more options than ever before and this can be challenging. The biggest challenge for many will be choosing between going to school online or on campus.
So what makes an online program better? It’s all about convenience. Instead of having to attend school in a classroom, at a specific time and date, online classes have schedules that are based on when the student is available.
In the past, traditional students had work hours that revolved around schoolwork. Part-time jobs were plentiful and employers happy to provide schedules that accommodated school hours. In today’s tough economy, however, just getting a part-time job can be competitive and no one is going to ask a boss for special treatment just to go to school.
Add to this the fact that many returning students are older, which means they also have mortgages and families to feed, and the reality is that school has to fit around work hours rather than vice-versa. This is where online classes provide the largest benefit. Instead of having to give up precious time driving to school, finding parking and getting to class at a specific hour, online learning allows students to attend at a time that best suits them.
This is not to imply that students do not have to be present in class. Most online class programs require students to check in at least once, and often more times, each day. In addition, online classes require the same type of time commitment as in-house classes. Students are required to interact with each other via email, complete assignments on time and work on teams, just like they would in a “real” classroom.
The difference is that students can choose what time of the day works best for them. For some, the only time for schoolwork is at 5 a.m., before the kids get up. Others find they work best at 11 p.m., after the family is in bed. And for those with rotating schedules, who cannot go to class the same day each week, there is now an option to using vacation time just to go to school.
There are currently many colleges that specialize in online learning and as demand increases this can be expected to expand even more. For those with time constraints or even just those who do not want a traditional college experience, online schools may just be the greatest thing to ever happen to the educational process.