Is an Online Degree Right for Me?

By CSU Global - October 22nd, 2019

Ready to go back to school, or are you just embarking on your post-secondary education journey? Determining where to apply and enroll is the first step, but with all of the options out there, it can feel like an overwhelming task. While traditional brick-and-mortar institutions may be top of mind, you owe it to yourself to explore the numerous highly-respected online degree programs available to you. 

Why? Online degree programs offered through public universities have reported consistent year-over-year growth in enrollment since the dawn of the new millennium. More and more universities are offering programs exclusively online. And online degrees are respected by employers everywhere: In a CareerBuilder.com survey, 83 percent of executives said online degrees are just as credible as degrees earned in traditional, on-campus programs

Your educational goals, life situation, career, and personal preferences all factor into your choice of where to earn your degree. Is an online degree right for your situation and goals? Let’s explore. 

Online Degrees Are Flexible

One of the most obvious benefits in choosing to obtain your degree online? The schedule, pace, and location are very flexible. Rather than centering around classes conducted at set times in lecture halls, online degrees offer you the flexibility of learning coursework when and where it’s most convenient for you. You’d still be expected to work through the material on a schedule and submit projects or papers on set due dates, but the freedom and flexibility of online degrees mean you’d be able to consume the material on your own time.

Some online universities, like CSU Global, offer rolling term starts. That means that whenever you’re ready to begin your academic journey, you can jump right in – no need to wait for an arbitrary month on the calendar to roll around. 

Because of their flexible nature, online degrees may be a perfect fit for those who seek to balance work or family obligations with earning their degree. Online degrees also help open doors of degree attainment to rural students, who often have fewer proximal major universities to choose from and thus earn significantly fewer degrees than those living in urban or suburban areas. 

Online Degrees May Be a Better Fit for Your Financial Goals

Tuition at traditional four-year public universities runs in-state students upwards of $10,000 in tuition per year. Out-of-state students see rates north of $26,000 per year for tuition. And enrolling at a traditional university also includes a slew of fees: student life fees, enrollment fees, lab fees, tech fees, out-of-state fees, transportation fees, and more. 

Paying for a traditional university experience can be out of reach for many students. In the U.S., the average amount of student debt each borrower carries is a staggering $37,172. 

Online degrees, like those offered by CSU Global, may be less costly. For example, our tuition is one low, fixed cost, and never includes things like out-of-state fees, student fees, or hidden charges. Some online programs offered by private universities, however, may be quite expensive. According to U.S. News & World Report, the average annual cost of tuition at an online for-profit university is $16,000, far above the average of around $10,000 for four-year in-state tuition. It’s also important to remember that many for-profit online schools are nationally as opposed to regionally accredited. Regional accreditation is preferred by employers and other universities, helping to ensure your investment in your education is worth it. (CSU Global is regionally accredited.)

Accreditation also matters when it comes to financial aid. If an online school isn’t accredited, you may not be eligible for financial aid at all. It’s also key to remember that, even if you don’t finish your program, you’ll still need to pay back any loans. That’s why it’s so important to make sure the online degree program you choose is a good fit both personally and financially. 

Online Degree Programs Are Good Fits for Nontraditional Students

Whether you’re making a career change, going back to school to finish a degree, transferring from another school, or starting at university for the first time, an online degree could help you reach those goals quickly and more affordably. 

Today’s modern learners don’t all fit into the same box. In the past, the image of a university student was someone in their early 20s spending four years at a brick-and-mortar institution to earn their degree. But now, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, that’s all changing.

“In fall 2017, nearly one-third of undergraduate students (5.5 million) participated in distance education, with 2.2 million students, or 13 percent of total undergraduate enrollment, exclusively taking distance education courses. Of the 2.2 million undergraduate students who exclusively took distance education courses, 1.4 million were enrolled in institutions located in the same state in which they resided, and 717,000 were enrolled in institutions in a different state.”

Those wishing to earn their degrees outside of the stereotypical four-year college experience have more options than ever before thanks to online learning.

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