6 Benefits of Taking University Courses Online

Posted on July 27, 2023

Posted on July 27, 2023

Online learning has taken the world by storm in the past few years. People are no longer restricted by their location or schedule, opening a world of opportunities for new and returning students alike. 

Whether you’re balancing the responsibilities of your family or work, you have limited time to sit in traffic and stick to a rigid schedule, or you want a broader variety of universities to choose from all over the country (or world), here are the benefits of taking university courses online. 

1. More Flexibility 

One of the most restrictive aspects of traditional learning is sticking to a set schedule. Sometimes, courses are only available in a few time slots, making it much more challenging to fit your education into your schedule. 

For example, that core philosophy course you need to complete may only be available at 11 am on a Wednesday – right in the middle of a workweek for a typical 9-5 job. Or your required courses may only be scheduled for evenings, but that’s when you spend time with family or get the kids ready for school in the morning. 

Online courses are often asynchronous, giving you more flexibility in how you participate and complete assignments. If you’re an early riser, you can study and work on assignments before you go to work or the kids go to school. If you work second or third shift, you don’t have to disrupt your sleep schedule to attend class groggy and unfocused. The possibilities are endless. 

2. No Geographical Boundaries 

As much as college is a chance for young students to develop more independence, most stay close to home.  

Some of this is financial, as moving away to attend college can add to the overall cost. For some students, this can mean not attending at all if students live in rural areas far from any institutions. 

For adult learners returning to school, the considerations are similar. Moving away to attend school or having a long commute may not be manageable with a work schedule or family obligations – either limiting the options or preventing them from earning a degree at all. 

But without these geographic limitations, you can attend virtually any university that offers online programs for your major. Distance is no longer a consideration, so you can focus on the most cost-effective or prestigious options. Better yet, if you are pursuing an unusual major that’s only offered at a few select schools, you don’t need to uproot your whole life to achieve your goal. 

3. Often More Cost-Effective 

Total costs for school are often a consideration – if not a limitation – for students. While online courses aren’t always cheaper than in-person courses, they can be more cost-effective overall. Some colleges and universities offer online courses at a lower cost per credit hour than campus courses, saving a lot of money over the typical four to six years. 

Even if courses aren’t necessarily cheaper online than in person, there are other costs that can add to the total investment in education. On-campus learning has additional expenses for room and board, transportation, parking, campus fees, meals, and more. It all adds up, but taking courses online eliminates a lot of these added costs. 

4. Better Course Variety 

Online learning in university environments greatly expanded the options for courses that apply to your degree. It may be more difficult for universities to offer a lot of variety on a physical campus, but self-paced online courses can allow for more diverse course offerings with less administrative burden for the institution. 

This course variety gives you more options to take courses that are not only necessary for a degree but appeal to your personal interests. For example, if you don’t like science but you love animals, courses in zoology or wildlife science may be available online. Maybe you want to supplement your university experience with practical courses like career readiness or workplace communication. 

Along with more options for interesting subjects, online courses may have more variety in scheduling. Unique courses like “Feminism in Rom-Coms” or “The Golden Age of Piracy” are not only rarer than standard subjects, but they’re often waitlisted. With online courses, you may be able to sign up for a class that may have otherwise conflicted with your schedule. 

5. Increased Collaboration 

Compared to large university classrooms, online courses are more intimate and offer plenty of opportunities for students to collaborate with each other and their professor. Without in-person participation, discussions are moved to message boards, group assignments, and other collaborative forms to encourage interactions among students – though still asynchronous. 

Students may also receive more one-on-one time with their professor in online learning. They may keep office hours, but they’re also available via email or phone for more availability outside of office hours. 

6. More Personalized Education 

Traditional university courses are structured similarly, which can be a limitation – or a possible dealbreaker – for nontraditional learners. Students who are shy may find themselves shrinking in a large classroom, while more independent learners may struggle to stay on pace with the structure of a group. 

University courses with self-paced formatting offer a more personalized learning experience to adapt to each student’s needs. You can complete your coursework when you feel most productive, and in the environment you choose, whether that’s your home office or in bed during the wee hours of the morning. 

Not all university courses have self-paced online learning, but as education adapts to the demands of the public, it’s becoming more common. You can also complement traditional learning with self-paced formats for select courses, such as with gen ed courses from Sophia Learning. 

Is Taking University Courses Online Right for You? 

Have these benefits convinced you to skip the traditional classroom? Online learning isn’t for every student, but if you value flexibility, independence, and control over your educational experience, it could be the perfect fit. If you want to experience what online learning can be while completing your gen ed courses, start a free trial and explore our university partners at Sophia! 

Category: Higher Education

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