In 2019, 7.4 million adult students returned to college or started school for the first time. That figure has steadily risen over the past decade. Many adults find that their career stalls without a degree. Others hope to change to a more lucrative or rewarding profession. Although returning to school offers a path to a better life, it can be challenging to juggle the competing responsibilities of school, work, and home life. Online degree programs ease the burden by providing flexibility, which makes them a great option for adult learners.
You also aren’t limited to attending your local college or university. Instead, you can cast a wide net and choose the best program for your needs, wherever you are in the world. Here’s why every adult student needs to consider getting their degree online.
A Flexible Schedule
Life is full of competing demands. And the older you get, the more those demands tend to multiply. Whether it’s the work project you need to complete yesterday, the crying baby, the home renovation, the new car purchase that just can’t wait, or all of the above, many adults feel that their to-do list is just too long to accommodate one more thing.
When you attend a traditional college, you have to find a way to fit everything around a class schedule that changes every semester. If you need to meet with a professor or attend a study group, you’ll have to fit even more into an increasingly packed day.
Online courses allow you more control over your own schedule. You can do everything virtually and listen to lectures on your own time—not an inflexible timeline the school assigns. This flexibility helps you better manage your many competing obligations so you can find a work-life-school-family balance that really works.
More Time for What Matters
The traditional academic environment has a significant hidden time cost. Not only must you plan to commute, park, and walk to class, but you’ll also have to get dressed for school every day, plan for childcare, prepare or buy meals, and more. That can add a lot of time to an already punishing schedule.
With an online degree, you can roll out of bed, wear whatever is comfortable, and get to work on your own schedule. If you prefer working as the sun rises before the kids get up, then enjoy class over a cup of coffee. If you’re more of a night owl, your program can accommodate this too. And of course, if you’re like many busy adults and have to do schoolwork and attend class whenever an opportunity presents itself, virtual learning could be your only option.
The time you save means you’ll have more opportunities to pursue coursework, to hunker down and write high-quality papers, or to begin building your professional network by getting to know other students and your professor. Better yet, you won’t have to sacrifice everything you love about your life to make time for school. You can still show up for your kids’ school performances, meet work deadlines, and even go on family vacations.
You only get one life. Getting from here to where you want to be may mean giving some things up. It shouldn’t mean having to spend every waking second working. Your life matters now. An online degree program honors your future with an exceptional education while still giving you time to invest in the people and work you care about.
Attend School Anywhere in the World
For centuries, students returning to school had to either move or find a school near their home. That could mean sacrificing quality for convenience. Research shows that distance from school is a major barrier to pursuing higher education. For some adult students, especially those living in rural areas, there may not be a school nearby, let alone a quality one. An online degree program empowers you to choose the best possible degree program, no matter where you live.
If your job requires travel or you love seeing the world, an online degree is a perfect fit. You can attend class from a busy airport or a quiet rural retreat, staying on top of your future goals while living the life you love today.
Many adults return to school because they need to make more money. Adding tuition to an already tight budget can feel impossible in this scenario. In fact, 60 percent of adults say they have contemplated a return to school, but that financial barriers get in their way.
In addition to lower tuition, you’ll have fewer “hidden” costs with an online degree. You won’t have to pay the often exorbitant costs of commuting to school and parking. You might not have to take time away from work. And with less time spent commuting to and from school, you’ll likely have fewer childcare costs. For struggling families, removing these burdens can mean the difference between pursuing a dream and letting it die.
A More Accessible Learning Environment
An in-person college setting boasts many charms, but it’s not for everyone. The large crowds can be overwhelming to students with anxiety or physical disabilities. Inaccessible classrooms can be exhausting to everyone, while posing a serious learning barrier to people in wheelchairs and to those with visual or mobility impairments. Introverts may feel intimidated by large lecture halls. Students with sensory processing issues or autism may feel paralyzed as they navigate a world of stimulus overload, loud noises, and unfamiliar faces.
Online learning opens the door to more students. Whether you have a disability or just prefer doing your work on your own time, you’ll have more control over your learning environment. You don’t have to navigate stairs, long corridors, and endless crowds. Instead, sit down in a comfy chair with your favorite drink and a nourishing snack, then join your peers and your professor at a pace that feels right to you. You’ll have less anxiety and stress and more time to focus on completing your degree.
A Degree That Gets Results
The promises of an online program might seem too good to be true. Some adult students worry that an online degree program is less rigorous than a traditional degree or that employers take these degrees less seriously. The data suggests otherwise. Employers increasingly accept and respect online degrees, with 83 percent of executives in one survey reporting that online degrees are just as valuable as a degree earned in-person.
Online degree programs offer most of the same benefits as programs that require you to spend endless hours in a physical classroom. You’ll still have the chance for one-on-one interaction with professors. You can get to know other students through discussions and message boards, and you can begin building a meaningful professional network from day one.
As with any course of study, it’s important to choose an accredited program. Review your chosen school’s accreditation history here. An accredited school has a proven track record of quality programs and well-prepared students.
Accredited online degree programs are the future of education and job success. This innovative approach is ideal for adult learners. At SNU, each of our programs focuses on real-world skills and expertise. You’ll work with innovators and leaders in their fields, and you’ll graduate ready to get to work.
Is an Online Degree Program Right for You?
There’s no perfect educational track that works for everyone. Some students thrive on in-person interactions and the hustle and bustle of campus life. Not sure if an online degree program is right for you? If you answer “yes” to several of these queries, virtual learning could be a great fit:
- Are scheduling demands a major barrier to returning to school?
- Do you need to continue working while you go to school?
- Are you able to stay on task even if you are not in the same room as your professor?
- Do you prefer to control your own schedule?
- Do you have young children or other family members, such as an aging relative, who need you at home?
- Does commuting stress you out?
- Do you have a physical disability that makes navigating traditional campuses difficult or time-consuming?
- Do you feel anxious in large crowds or big classes?
- Do you want more control over the space where you learn, do homework, and interact with professors?
SNU offers programs uniquely tailored to the needs of adult students. We know that returning to school demands initiative and persistence. Don’t waste effort fighting traffic and managing scheduling challenges. Commit your full energy to your schoolwork with one of our exceptional pathways to a great career. We would love to help you envision and create a future you can love. Contact us to learn more!