How the Online Learning Experience Can Elevate Your Education
As higher education has become an increasingly common requirement for professional advancement, online learning has seen its profile rise as an attractive option for working professionals. In fact, even as overall enrollments in higher education have declined in recent years, online enrollments have grown every year since 2002. Today, 15.4 percent of college and university students are enrolled fully online, and nearly a third of all such students take at least one online class.1
Yet despite this increase in popularity, many prospective students remain apprehensive about the online learning experience. Concerns expressed by such students typically center around the extent to which real interpersonal connections are possible in an online setting, either with classmates or in terms of direct contact with faculty.
To help you decide whether online study for your graduate degree is right for you, we’ve put together the following guide to some of the key benefits that online learning can offer, particularly to those students interested in pursuing a professional degree like an MBA or an MS in Business Analytics.
1. Real Connections, Made Digitally
Let’s address that major concern first: It’s never been easier to forge real, meaningful connections in an online learning environment. Advances in technology have breathed new life into online learning, as video conferencing software and increasingly robust learning management systems have made direct contact with faculty a snap and created vibrant forums for group work and class discussions.
These advances can have real, meaningful impact on the relationships that define your personal and professional life. Classmates you meet when you study online can become key contacts for you going forward. The geographic openness that online learning allows can make your network a truly global one, and the diversity of perspectives and experiences that your classmates will bring to your shared time together can help deepen the connections you form and promote your own personal growth.
And when your faculty uses the available technology to invest in you to the fullest extent possible, they can become invaluable professional mentors for the next phase of your career. Taking advantage of office hours or direct lines of contact is a crucial strategy when you decide to study online, and current online learning technologies have made it easier than ever.
2. A Valuable Education Values Your Time
One of the major barriers to entry for many considering a graduate-level degree is the amount of time required to attend class and complete homework assignments. Despite a trend toward increased leisure time in the U.S. over the past 50 years,2 it can still feel tenuously scarce for full-time working professionals. And this is doubly true when family responsibilities are taken into account.
Online education by and large solves this problem with asynchronous coursework that can be completed whenever your schedule most easily allows. Hours spent commuting to a campus after work are no longer required for those who do not wish to leave full-time jobs in order to pursue higher education, and lessons can typically be paused and picked up whenever your existing personal responsibilities allow.
At the end of the day, all of the hard work you’ll put into an online graduate program is intended to grow your career and improve your life more generally, so it makes sense that you should be able to complete it without any extreme personal or professional disruptions.
3. Bring Your Classroom to You
Historically, geography has been a major factor limiting the opportunity for graduate study for many people to a relatively small set of nearby colleges and universities. Master's degree programs are not like "going off to college"; they need to fit as seamlessly as possible into your existing personal and professional life.
The option to study online breaks down this barrier by putting a broad spectrum of educational choices at your fingertips. If a university hundreds of miles away from home—or even one simply a good distance across town, if you live in a dense urban area where commuting can be a pain—offers what you think is the perfect graduate program for you, you can see if they offer an online version of it.
Universities that are serious about online education generally ensure that the same distinguished faculty who teach their on-ground courses also teach in their online programs. There’s no truer sign that a university cares equally about the quality of the education it offers and about putting that education in reach of as many people as possible than the active involvement of their faculty members in designing and teaching their online courses.
Go Online With Albers for an Elite Business Education
The Albers School of Business and Economics at Seattle University is proud to be among the forward-thinking institutions to bring professionally valuable graduate programs into the online space. If you think your career could benefit from overcoming the leadership challenges posed by our Online MBA or developing the skills of a data translator with our Online MSBA, get in touch with an Admissions Advisor today to find out more.
- Retrieved on March 20, 2019, from insidehighered.com/digital-learning/article/2018/11/07/new-data-online-enrollments-grow-and-share-overall-enrollment
- Retrieved on March 20, 2019, from economist.com/news/christmas-specials/21636612-time-poverty-problem-partly-perception-and-partly-distribution-why