The Benefits of Online Education

Perhaps nowhere has the Internet's impact been greater than in the world of online education and distance learning. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the number of students taking distance education classes more than doubled between 1995 and 1998 and is expected to continue growing at a phenomenal rate. Why are so many people flocking to online classes? What advantages do Internet-based courses offer?


Probably the greatest benefit of online education is the incredible convenience that it offers. Unlike a traditional class, online courses usually don't have regular meetings (though there are still due dates for assignments and exams, and you may have scheduled meetings or "chats" occasionally). As a result, you can do your schoolwork and studying based around your schedule. No more 8am classes, no more 4-hour lectures... heck, you could wear your underwear to "class" and no one will ever know. After all, it all takes place in front of your computer, on your time.

This obviously has huge implications for students who have jobs, a family to take care of, or both. Instead of trying to juggle your classes around a 9-to-5 job or your son's soccer practice, distance learning gives you the flexibility to take your classes when you can fit them in. It's still a challenge, no doubt -- but at least now you'll have options.

Unlimited Offerings

When it comes to local schools and colleges, a student in New York City has far more programs to choose from than someone living in Bismarck, North Dakota. But when you're taking classes online, geography doesn't matter anymore! If a course or program isn't offered in your area, you can almost always find an online school that offers a comparable distance learning program. You no longer have to be at a disadvantage because you live in a remote or less-populated area; thanks to the Internet, everyone (around the world, even!) has the same opportunities at their fingertips.

Greater Communication

"Wait -- how can there be more communication in an online class if I never actually see my teacher?" It may sound strange at first, but you'll often have more opportunities for more direct communication with your teachers (and classmates) in an online classroom.

Instead of being limited to asking questions during class or office hours, you'll have direct access to your instructors via email or message boards. This can be especially helpful for students are normally a bit shy or reserved in a traditional classroom setting -- online, you can take the time to develop articulate questions and responses without worrying about your nerves getting in the way. It's important that you use this opportunity to speak up -- if you don't speak up when you need help in an online class, it's a lot easier to fall behind and slip through the cracks.

In just a few years, the Internet has turned online education into a multi-billion-dollar-a-year industry; the majority of colleges and universities now offer some form of distance learning as part of their curriculum. And with the benefits we've listed here (and a host of others), it's easy to see why online education has become so popular.

Experience the benefits of online education for yourself! Browse our lists of schools offering bachelors, masters, and even MBA degrees online today.