Not sure where to apply for an online degree? In this article, we talk about why you might want to consider choosing an online degree program in a local university.
As overall online course enrollment rises, more undergraduate
online learners are choosing a program near their home, according to a 2016 survey by Aslanian Market Research and the Learning House, a company that helps colleges and universities develop quality online degree programs.
75 percent of the online students in this survey were enrolled in a program at a college or university within 100 miles of where they live, and 55 percent chose a program at a college or university within 50 miles.
These days, most community colleges or state universities have fairly robust online programs. It is no surprise that more and more students choose to study in these local colleges or universities. Online students are also visiting their campuses more frequently than in the past. 57 percent of respondents visited one to five times in the year 2016, a huge rise from only 32 percent in 2014.
When it comes to choosing an online program, a student needs to consider: reputation, programs of study, and convenience and cost among other factors.
1) Access faculty and student services in person.
Most online programs will allow students to maintain communication with professors, support staff, and peers virtually through some kind of online portal. However, many students prefer face-to-face contact so that they may build stronger and more personal relationships.
If you live within a reasonable distance of your college or university, you will be able to visit without too much hassle. You still have the flexibility of an online program that allows you to have a flexible schedule and allows you to cut daily commuting expenses but, when you need it, you can plan strategically for a class visit with a professor or with a staff member. It may also be nice to take advantage of the physical spaces, such as libraries, that are present on campus.
2) Build a personal connection.
Students choose online programs for a number of reasons but flexibility usually ranks as a top reason. If you have full-time commitments, such as jobs or a family, that occupy your time during the parts of the day when normal in-person classes are normally scheduled, then online degrees are a great option. That being said, it’s quite useful to have the option to visit the campus in person when you have that opportunity. You would be able to attend university networking events, student organizations, and plan visits with professors to discuss various topics.
3) Embrace a familiar environment.
Enrolling in a program near home means you get the chance to visit the school and familiarize yourself with what it has to offer. You can check for yourself, in person, to see if you trust the school’s brand. You most likely have a better understanding of how reputable the university is in the eyes of local or potential employers.
"You may have had friends or relatives that are alumni, or they work there; it's in the news, maybe they have a football team, and you see the scores in the paper and things like that," he says. "It's just the brand is strong and the reputation is strong in the area."
4) Opt to take some classes on ground.
Once again, we are here to stress that it is nice to simply have the option to visit your campus in-person when the opportunity presents itself. Who knows? Maybe one day you will find the time and space to be able to take one class on-campus. If that is the case, enrolling in a school near you makes that possible.