Is an Online Degree Worth it?

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May 20, 2020

Is an Online Degree Worth It?

Online learning is here to stay. According to a report from the National Center of Education statistics, more than 7.3 million students enrolled in some form of online education course at the beginning of the 2019-2020 academic year. Based on the experience of these individuals, it’s clear that online learning is not only an integral part of a university’s educational strategies, but the online degree carries the same weight as a degree earned in person.

Consider the following data:

  • Of the more than 7.3 million online learners, almost half were educated exclusively through online learning (no brick-and-mortar classes at all), according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
  • 49% of students plan to continue taking online courses even after schools fully return to in-person learning after COVID-19, according to BestColleges’ 2021 Online Education Trend Report.
  • The same report notes that student satisfaction with online learning is high — overall, 93% say it has or will have a positive ROI.
  • 83% of students would recommend online education to others.
  • 74% of students think that online learning is the same or better than the traditional classroom experience.

What those percentages tell us is that online degrees are increasingly worth it in today’s world. Its popularity continues to grow, and there are several reasons why so many enjoy this flexible form of higher education.

Benefits of an Online Degree

Earning a degree online provides the same quality education as a traditional in-person setting. This equal level of learning lays a foundation for several other benefits that can be enjoyed when a student chooses to pursue a degree online. For those who want more flexibility in their educational experience, these advantages could be game changing.

1. Convenience

Online education allows you to set the pace and time of day for your studies. From early morning to late at night, you choose the best time to focus on your coursework. Some online colleges do not have a set time during the day when you are required to log in, which gives you more latitude. You’ll find that by achieving a comfortable balance of work, family life and studies, there’s no need to let important priorities slide.

2. Accessibility

You can study from anywhere in the world, without having to commute or follow a rigid schedule. This “portable” learning is accessible from wherever you choose, as long as there’s an internet connection. On top of the time savings, you also save on transportation costs, which can now be spent on other priorities.

3. A Customizable Learning Experience

Online classes tend to be smaller than conventional in-person class sizes, which creates a more engaging environment among the students and instructor. There’s often access to very diverse material, such as videos and eBooks. And discussion boards and interactive forums can be integrated to create a collaborative learning experience tailor-made for you. 

4. Networking with no Geographic Boundaries

Because classes can be filled with students from virtually all over the country, and sometimes the world, you are able to interact with people of varied cultures and experiences. Having this broad network keeps class discussions interesting, and can potentially open doors down the road.

Online vs. On-Campus Degrees

When considering whether an online degree is worth it, it’s important to note that there are differences between earning an online degree and earning a degree on campus. However, these paths converge in the most important area possible. Namely, earning an online degree is equal in academic achievement to earning an on-campus degree. 

The University Experience

Some of the key differences between the two paths involve peripheral elements. For instance, online learning often doesn’t provide the full “college experience,” as it negates the need to engage in dorm life and makes on-campus activities more difficult to attend. However, if a student’s focus is chiefly on earning a degree, this may not matter much. 

Cost

Cost is another key differentiator between online and on-campus learning. Typically, the overall cost of earning a degree online is substantially less than the in-person path. According to a 2021 report by the Education Data Initiative, online degrees are $10,776 cheaper than in-person degrees, on average. 

Online courses eliminate the need to pay for room and board. You can also save on paying other related expenses that may come with living on-campus in an expensive city.

Flexibility

Finally, an online degree offers a greater range of flexibility. In an on-campus environment, courses are held at a set, rigid time and students are expected to build their schedules around these classes. Conversely, an online environment enables you to review classes and coursework at a time that fits your schedule.

Can an Online Degree Help You Land a Job?

While there may still be concerns about online degrees being valid in the job market, those concerns are unfounded. An online degree provides the same level of validation of an individual’s knowledge and skill set as does a degree earned on campus. 

Additionally, online degrees are worth it because they can provide students with educational and career opportunities that may have otherwise been out of reach. Since online degrees are usually more accessible and flexible than in-person degrees, they can allow students with other commitments or location restraints to earn an education when a full-time, in-person degree would not have been manageable. Additionally, they can help students who already have a degree bolster their skills and knowledge, making them more competitive in the job market. 

Explore the Power of Online Learning

More people have discovered the benefits that come from earning an online degree, and with good reason. Earning a degree online allows individuals the ability to forge their professional futures in a flexible, cost-effective manner that fits their personal schedules. For those who are focused on the opportunities a degree can potentially lead to, choosing the online route may be an especially alluring option.

Peru State College Online is well equipped to help you achieve your online degree goals. For more than 20 years, our online programs have empowered students to cultivate their knowledge and skill sets on their schedule, preparing them to be a dynamic force in whatever field they choose. 

Learn how we can help you embark on a path toward achieving your career goals.