Here’s a scenario that’s way more common than people think:
- You went to college for a little while after high school
- But due to unforeseen circumstances or other issues, you had to drop out
- Now, many years later, it feels hopeless to try to go back to school online to finish your degree
Sound familiar? It’s a story that plays out in the hundreds of thousands every year, especially for women who start families. But even though it can feel like you missed the boat when it comes to finishing your degree, it’s actually not true!
Take it from me. I started school and dropped out. But then I decided to go back to school to finish my degree online. Best. Choice. Ever. And not just because I’m making more money now.
In truth, going back to school online is more affordable and accessible than ever. Not convinced? Let me break it down for you.
Thinking of Going Back to School Online? Great Idea!
These days, tons of people are thinking about going back to school online, and I can’t blame them! There’s a lot of great reasons to finish your education online instead of hiking back to a physical university every few days.
In fact, recent data projected through the end of 2024 indicates that over 50% of enrolled college students will take online classes. Talk about popular! Even more impressive, the number of adults going back to school increased by a whopping 194.7% between 1970 and 2010.
All this is to say that tons of people are thinking of going back to school online just like you. It can’t be a bad idea if everyone’s doing it, right?
Benefits of Going Back to School Online
Turns out, there are tons of great reasons to go back to school online. Here are just a few.
For one, online schools give you much more flexibility with your scheduling than in-person schools. It’s no surprise, either – it’s just easier for professors to make flat deadlines at the end of a week or quarter for assignments when you don’t have to meet up with them in person to get their lecture material.
With online schools and programs, professors provide digital learning material or prerecorded lectures for students to browse on their own time. Then students have to complete assignments, write papers, and do all the other parts of a typical college experience by a certain deadline.
But this is much more flexible since you can complete all those goals when it works best for you. For instance, maybe you need to work during the day so you have to take your school at night. No problem with online classes!
This is also a lifesaver for women with families who may not have a lot of time during the day or weekend to go to school. But maybe a hypothetical mom can do her schooling when her own kids are at school. Perfect.
All in all, the majority of online programs (though not all) are flexible with their schedules and great for part-time adult students.
Did you know that lots of online schools have more affordable tuition costs than their in-person versions? It’s true, especially for in-state students.
You see, most colleges want to draw in as many students from state tax-paying families as they can. They do this by offering incentives for in-state students to attend instead of out-of-state students.
This means that you can often easily find an affordable online program for in-state schools that you couldn’t attend otherwise (since it costs a lot of money to move and pay for room and board).
Even better, online schools let you stay in your own home, benefitting from a familiar learning environment, while you finish your education. You can even keep the same job while you finish your schooling even as you attend a university far from home. Either way, you don’t have to pay for room and board.
Affordable tuition is a great thing for everyone, but especially for adults looking to complete their educations on a budget. This is even more true if the reason you didn’t finish college in the first place was that it was too expensive.
More Life Experience
I discovered an underrated benefit of being an adult going to school online when I finished my degree: I had more experience than my peers. How does this help?
Basically, adults going back to school have the self-control and experience you need to make the most of your college opportunity. Tons of students every year waste tuition dollars and time at their universities by slacking off or spending more time socializing instead of studying.
But in going back to school online, you’re less likely to waste that time and opportunity. This pans out in the end, and you can even see it happening in real-time to your online classmates. As the semester progresses, more and more students will drop out of the class until only the most dedicated remain.
Freedom of Choice
Lastly, online colleges give you extra freedom of choice. When you look for a university to attend in person, you’re limited by a lot of variables, like how far it is away from home, how much of it costs, whether it’s in a good city so that you can get a job right out of graduation, and so on.
But online schools aren’t limited by anything aside from their tuition costs and how great their degrees are. This gives you even more flexibility when choosing a school at which to complete your degree online.
Best Practices to Finish Your Degree Online
I hope I’ve convinced you that finishing your degree online is a great choice, and it’s one that’s likely to pay dividends in the future. This being said, there are some better choices to make as you narrow down your options. Let me help you pick a great degree and make the most of your opportunity.
Choose a School That Speaks to You
I’d specifically recommend picking a school that seems to speak to you or that offers a program that really suits your interests. Some schools have different moods or atmospheres that you can really feel, even if you take the classes online from afar.
Some schools are more down-to-earth and flexible with their scheduling, and they may even help you complete your degree piecemeal over many years. Other schools might be a little more preppy and formal, but they might be a good choice if you’re looking for a “cohort” online schooling model.
In that model, you join a cohort of students studying the same subjects, completing different classes in step with one another. This gives you extra networking opportunities and could be a good choice if you want to complete your online education full-time rather than part-time.
Bottom line: pick the school that seems right for you, not just the first school that checks all the boxes that you find. There are dozens out there!
Choose a Degree That’ll Be Worthwhile
I’d also recommend picking a degree that’ll be worthwhile in the long run. After all, the entire point of going back to school online is to complete your degree and help yourself get better job prospects and opportunities in the future.
None of that will happen if you get the proverbial degree in “basket weaving” or something else. Fortunately, there are tons of excellent degree options and programs to cover a wide variety of interests. No matter who you are or what you’re interested in, there’s a worthwhile degree that can help you boost your income and career:
- Nursing and healthcare degrees are really common, especially in the online format. That’s because these industries are really popular right now and because the healthcare industry could always use more nurses and health care assistants. Even without COVID-19, people are living longer than ever before, so we need more nurses and folks who can stay with older people at their own homes to help them with their healthcare needs
- Computer science is another solid choice. Not only is it really popular right now, but the industry is constantly expanding, and practically every industry has a computer science division that needs people to fill out its ranks. Even better, computer science usually leads to excellent salary prospects. The better you get, the more money you’ll make. Tons of CS majors get six-figure plus salaries in a few years. Plus, online CS degrees are perfect picks for their subject matter
- Business degrees are also popular choices for those completing their educations online. Go back to school and get a business degree online and you’ll have extra business expertise and financing knowledge to help you run a brick-and-mortar or online business more smoothly and efficiently than before. In fact, this may be the best choice if you want to start your own business and become an entrepreneur
In the end, almost every degree imaginable has at least one online program you can check out and apply for. Keep in mind, however, that some degrees will also need you to complete some in-person credits or classes because of their subject matter.
For example, nursing degrees usually require you to complete a certain number of practical hours to qualify you to help real human patients. Fortunately, online programs even at out-of-state universities will let you visit a local clinic or hospital to complete those hours instead of having to go to your actual university.
Pick a School That Works with Your Schedule
You should also try to find an online school that works best with your schedule. Remember, some programs follow the aforementioned cohort mode while others are totally asynchronous. This just means that the school work is assigned with a set deadline, but you’re given total freedom to complete the work whenever it’s best for you before that point.
All in all, it’s clear to anyone who does the research that going back to school online is a more manageable and effective choice than ever before. It’s a great way to finish a degree if you dropped out of college for one reason or another or a good way to get a degree for a more affordable price in many cases.
Remember to check out ConsiderSchool.com for more resources about going back to school and finding the best online programs!