The past decade has witnessed a seismic shift in online education at the collegiate level. While naysayers abound, the growth in quality and variety of college programs available either partially or completely online demonstrates that online education has become an integral part of post-secondary education. Because of this, the level of respectability of online programs is increasing rapidly, and you may be wondering what the advantages are of pursuing your education online.

1. Enroll in your program of choice – regardless of where you are

If you choose a traditional college program, you’ll have to be physically present. Relocating to a different region is costly and time-consuming. While financial aid will help you with tuition and living expenses, it won’t pay for the money you will have to spend to move.

Also, a great program may not exist in a place where you would be happy for the next few years of your life. Not everybody likes the big city or life in a college town. As pointed out in an article by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer (Seattle PI), online programs allow you to remain in your current location while accessing outstanding programs across the nation and around the world ().

2. Find a true peer group

Traditional college programs are still traditional in every sense of the word. This means that most of the people in class are young adults who pursued college right after finishing high school. If you’re a non-traditional student, there are programs that cater to professionals, such as Capella University.

3. Accessibility

Online programs provide universal access. In Cal Poly’s white paper on online education, the authors highlight the importance of accessibility for students with physical and time restraints that do not allow them to attend traditional classes.

There are also logistical concerns for traditional students that are bypassed with online education. For example, with online classes there are no problems with not being able to check out materials only during library hours or traveling to the library only to have the few copies of the materials already checked out by other students in the class.

4. More interaction with the professor

This is probably the thing that is most counter-intuitive about online education as many people assume that online courses provide less interaction with the instructor. While there is less or even no face-to-face interaction, taking a course online can offer the opportunity to interact privately with the instructor as well as partake in chat sessions where only a handful of students are present, giving you more opportunities to ask questions, clarify points in the lecture and add depth to your knowledge of the materials presented.

5. Expediency

With the costs of college education soaring, time and money are major considerations for deciding if a degree will pay off in the long run. Online programs often do not ask students to take electives. This allows students to focus on their subject of choice and receive the education they need without having to waste time, money or effort on extraneous classes.

Although there are many more benefits beyond these, the advantages of an online education can make what would only be a dream otherwise into a reality. Research each program type thoroughly and decide which path is best for you.