There are countless reasons why students apply to online programs. With the ubiquity of internet access and the affordability of personal computers, online learning has become a well-received option for students who wish to pursue a degree via the web. As I have mentioned before, online learners are finding and building community as well as gaining access to terrific learning opportunities.
Online learners are the epitome of non-traditional…and that is okay. Higher education no longer has a traditional student. Getting an education is what matters. Online learning provides avenues and access to higher education. Students can get an education regardless of their life circumstances. Whether or not you work at a fulltime job, have family obligations, or you just want a unique way of experiencing a degree of study, online education can be the answer to a successful educational experience.
Growing up in rural Iowa, my internet access was limited to dial-up. It was slow and un-reliable. I was shocked when my father informed me recently that they now had “the broadband.” Fortunately, in 2011 most places in the U.S. have some type of affordable access to the web. If your access is limited, I would suggest visiting your local library to see if they provide free connectivity. In terms of your computer, your public library will generally have computers that you can utilize.
In addition, as an online learner, your requirements for success are unique. On-campus students generally use financial aid for purchasing books, paying for housing, and covering costs for student fees (like computer access fees). In my view, it is completely acceptable for an online learner to use some of their financial aid to assist in the purchase of a computer (if you don’t already have a suitable PC). The tools for success that an online learner requires are just as important as the “traditional” tools for on-campus students. Gear matters. When you are able to get online with a dependable computer, it is a lot easier to focus on that which matters most: learning and engagement.
What happens when your degree program is in another city, county, or state and you are unable to take courses in-person. Online education has literally transformed the way we think about geographical access and higher education. Your program of study is on the web. It is as near to you as your computer.
Want to study at a prestigious university? Go for it via their online education programs. Your degree will be as valuable as the one from the on-campus experience and you can say that you did it at home. And, for those students who are taking courses at a campus, online classes can provide a veritable buffet of options for those times when you can’t take the in-class version of a course. Need a course that is not offered at your school during a certain term or time? Ask your advisor to work with you about finding a substitute or equivalent course via an online learning program.
Above all, online learning expands your ability to choose. Your capacity to pick a program that fits your unique needs is greatly enhanced via the delivery of online programs.