There are multiple reasons as to why people choose to study an online degree, and they are very useful and valuable ways to gain experience, skills, and qualifications. You may want to expand your existing knowledge and qualifications in order to advance in your current career or industry. You may also want to learn a completely new skill to a high level or move into a different industry. Whatever your reasons, online courses provide flexible education to a high level, allowing you more control over the pace of your learning, your learning environment and opening up more academic opportunities. If you are considering online courses but need some more basic information, here are just a few things to think about.
Plenty of Course Choices
The internet is a brilliant resource and can give you access to courses and degrees that you may not be able to study for in person. This could be due to your physical location and the local universities not offering the types of courses that you need. If you cannot access the education you want, then you may have to change your plans and study something else. This can be a waste of time and money and can delay your career progression.
Whether these are in the medical field or an online AACSB MBA, online degrees are designed to be completed online, in your own time, and from a location that works for you. There is also a huge range of types of courses, as well as the subjects. You could study for an undergraduate or postgraduate degree, or a short course or diploma. The internet gives you the chance to access course types, levels of education, and learning methods that you may not have access to in a physical setting. This can help to make education more accessible and allow you to study the exact subject and qualifications that you need in order to pursue your dream career or develop personally.
Online courses may also be more cost-effective than their in-person versions, as the tuition fees may be reduced, and you may not have to spend as much on travel and campus accommodation. With the costs of education being a major factor as to many people choosing not to pursue further education, online courses can be a flexible and more affordable way to study.
More Control Over Your Studies
Due to the fact that online courses are designed for those who have other commitments and want a flexible study option that works alongside the rest of your life, these courses give you much more control than an in-person course might. When you study online, you will be able to learn at your own pace, in a location that fits your requirements.
Many people do not enjoy learning in a classroom environment, and this can put people off. Having more control over your location can help you enjoy the course more and absorb information better. It can also mean that you don’t have to travel as much, therefore saving you time and money. Home-based learning is a popular alternative for many people, as creating a learning environment that works for you is a very attractive option.
A productive working environment can look different depending on how you learn and where you are learning from. Knowing how best you work or what kind of learner you are can inform the way in which you set up your home learning space to best suit you. With in-person courses, you may not have the option to personalize your learning experience as much, as this can result in less enjoyment of the course and make it harder to absorb and retain information. There are many ways to create your ideal environment, such as:
- Having a dedicated workspace – creates a clear distinction between work and relaxation, both physically and in your mind, helping you to focus when you need to and also letting you wind down
- Keeping your space clean and clear – reduces distractions and means that you are less likely to lose items or notes. It can also help to work near a source of natural light and fresh air, such as a window
- Have the correct equipment – using ergonomic accessories helps to make you feel more comfortable and supported, which is important when you are sitting down and working from a desk. Poor posture can cause various problems, including pain and fatigue, and can also worsen arthritis. Ergonomic chairs support your body and encourage good posture, and ensure that you are sitting properly. Furthermore, laptop stands can also be useful, because they lift your screen up to the level of your eyes. This means that you are not straining your neck by looking down at your screen for long periods of time, as your head is very heavy.
- Remove distractions – self-motivation and focus is a large part of working and learning from home, so taking steps to schedule your learning and remove anything that may distract you will help you complete the course to a higher level
- Take breaks – while it may be tempting to cram and work for as long as you can, breaking up your lessons and taking regular breaks can help to reset your mind and body. Eating and drinking properly will also help you get the most out of your educational experience, and there are even certain foods and drinks that can help boost your brainpower.
You can also learn a lot about yourself and your learning preferences when you have more control over the course. There are different styles of learning, and you may find that you can tailor the way you receive information, learn or revise to fit these methods. Some styles of learning include:
- Visual learners prefer to use visual tools such as images, charts, and diagrams
- Auditory learners learn best when listening to material or information and speaking it aloud to reinforce it
- Kinesthetic learners are physical, and therefore absorb information best through practical demonstration and acting out information
Some courses may also combine different learning and teaching methods, such as online coursework and in-person practical work like internships or placements. This is called blended learning and is another flexible method of learning that allows students to tailor the course to their requirements and preferences.
The ability to learn at home while managing your other commitments, such as your job or family, is a great skill, as it shows employers that you can multitask and prioritize when you need to and can still complete your tasks to a high level. Self-paced learning is a great, flexible way to take in information at a speed that works for you, allowing you to take time in areas that you need to, ask questions, and revisit any topics as often as you need. With online learning, many of the resources are recorded or available at your leisure, so you also don’t need to worry as much about taking notes in a live lecture and missing something important.
Develop Your Personal Skills
The main reason that you may be taking an online degree is to learn specific skills in that subject or area, with the aim of professional development. However, online courses can also help you develop personally, giving you the chance to boost your valuable soft skills. These are a set of non-technical skills that help you thrive in any workplace and look great on a resume. Soft skills include:
- Time management – organizing, scheduling, and prioritizing different tasks to ensure that everything is completed to a high level and in a timely manner
- Communication – speaking with and listening to others, whether this is in person or over email, asking for help when you need it, and knowing when and how to adapt your communication techniques to match the situation
- Conflict resolution – peacefully solving disagreements, disputes, or conflict
- Self-motivation – managing distractions and maintaining your focus by yourself, instead of having another person there to monitor you
- Problem-solving– logically using different methods to solve complex problems or issues
- Critical thinking – objectively assessing a situation and making a judgment about it
- Creativity – being able to ‘think outside the box’ and come up with solutions or ideas that may not be obvious to everyone
- Adaptability – the ability to adapt to situations when they change, to not get too attached to ideas, and to be able to update and change your approaches, methods, and ideas when necessary
With online degrees and courses, you may use many of these skills without even realizing it. For example, organization and time management are crucial skills when learning from home, as you will need to organize your time to ensure that you complete your studies and other commitments to a high quality.
Online learning has many unique challenges, and by undertaking a degree online, you will use a combination of soft skills to overcome these and complete your course. Another example is self-motivation, as you won’t have a tutor or classmates around you to ensure that you are completing your work. You will need to remove distractions and develop ways to motivate yourself, increasing your focus and becoming a capable and confident independent learner. This is very useful, as you can take these methods forward into the future and use them every time you have to learn something new.
Increased Career Outcomes
There are many benefits to developing and expanding your education, whether this is through a short personal skills course or a full online degree. If you are looking for a career change, you may consider a conversion course. These types of degrees take existing qualifications and credits, allowing you to move into a different field of study, sometimes at an accelerated pace. This can help you move into a new field, following your dream career path. This is particularly useful if you are studying a course and are not enjoying it, as you can move onto another course that you may enjoy more.
You can also choose to study a completely different degree or subject, but there are various criteria that you will have to meet in order to enroll on different courses, so it is important to ensure that you are aware of this and are prepared. Another popular option when it comes to online degrees is studying a master’s level course online, providing a higher level of qualification than an undergraduate degree. If you already have qualifications and a job, then you may not see much of a reason to continue studying. However, learning at master’s level has many benefits:
- More job opportunities
- Educational experiences
- More resources
- Deeper knowledge
- Working with likeminded people
When you study at a higher level, the jobs that you are eligible to apply for are also often at a higher level, with increased salaries. If you are after a specific job or role, then a master’s degree could help your application stand out and get you that dream job interview. You will also be able to access experiences and resources that you may not have access to outside of an educational setting, such as talks, internships, and placements. Internships are brilliant networking opportunities, as well as being opportunities to put your new skills into practice in a workplace environment. Being able to delve deeper into a subject you are passionate about shows employers that you really care about the field and give you the chance to develop your knowledge in an area of interest.
Online degrees can be useful in many different ways. They can introduce you to new people and professionals, help you change or develop your career, and give you the chance to learn more about a subject you are genuinely interested in. They are flexible and can allow you to learn at your own pace, in a location that works for you. You will be able to develop both personally and professionally, helping you become a valuable employee in whichever field you choose to work in.