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How to Decide: Online or On-Campus?

How to Decide: Online or On-Campus?

Today there is a nationwide value for higher education. As such, it doesn’t matter whether your education is obtained online or on-campus — or through a hybrid combination of both. What matters is that you have earned your degree, and you have the determination and the vision to improve your life and your knowledge. Because online and on-campus programs are viewed as largely equivalent today, your choice will revolve around a careful evaluation of other deciding factors.

How to Decide: Online or On-Campus?

3 Types of Programs

There are three basic types of college programs you can choose from. If you are the recipient of independent (non-institutional) financial aid such as a military scholarship, you should first check carefully to see whether the scholarship or aid has any stipulations for what type of program you must enroll in.

  • On-campus. With an on-campus program, you will attend classes in person, in a classroom, with a professor who lectures and administers the tests.
  • Online. With an online program, you will attend classes from your computer in a virtual classroom. Testing will also be administered online in most cases.
  • Hybrid. With a hybrid program, you may attend some classes online and some on-campus. Some hybrid programs have on-campus segments a few times per year with the rest online, but other programs may operate differently.

Benefits of an Online Education

Whether you are active duty military, a veteran or a civilian, there are certain undeniable advantages to earning your advanced degree online. Chief among these is that if you or a military spouse is transferred, you can continue your education uninterrupted. You can also schedule your class time around your other obligations. These are additional benefits of attending an online college.

  • You can study at your own pace from the comfort of home. If you like to study late at night in your jammies there is nothing to stop you.
  • You can take advantage of lower student fees and other overhead costs. Since you are not attending a physical university, there is no light bill to pay so student fees tend to be less.
  • You can make better use of your available study time because there is no commute. You can earn hours extra each week to study that would otherwise be lost in commute time.
  • You never have to worry that you don’t “fit in” with the student body because the classroom is virtual. No matter what your gender, age or background, you will always fit in perfectly in the virtual classroom environment.
  • You earn a great technology skill set along with your degree. Learning to navigate an online classroom, online test taking and virtual support systems ensures you will feel more confident about your technology skills when it comes time to interview for a job.

Benefits of an On-Campus Education

It is equally important to acknowledge the benefits of attending an on-campus college or university program. For instance, if you are transitioning from military back to civilian life, attending classes on-campus allows you the chance to get to know your fellow students face-to-face, participate in veterans or military communities, learn more about the local community and really feel a part of the academic experience. These are additional benefits worthy of your consideration:

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  • You don’t have to worry about procrastination or distraction getting in the way of attending classes. The classes start and end at specific times so there is no excuse for missing class.
  • You have someone to ask for help at all times because the professor is right there in class with you. You can visit the professor after class or in office hours if you have questions.
  • You can participate in extracurricular clubs and activities. You can take advantage of other socialization options with an on-campus program.
  • You have more networking opportunities because classes happen face-to-face. Networking is often easier face-to-face.
  • You can participate in face-to-face small group activities and study groups. If you learn better in a group, you will likely feel more comfortable in an on-campus program.

Because on-campus and online college programs hold equal value, it is essential to think through which program type will ensure your best chances for success.

About the Author: Matt Sloan spent one semester attending classes on campus before he transitioned into one of the college’s online programs instead. This worked better for his busy schedule and allowed him to spend more time with his kids.

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