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The reasons to earn a college degree are plentiful. Whether you’re eyeing an associate, bachelor’s or master’s degree, chances are you’ve given a lot of thought to how advanced education expands your career opportunities and your earning potential.

As you survey the landscape for educational options that align with your needs, your interests or a particular passion, perhaps you’ve also considered the pros and cons of on-campus education vs. online degree programs. (For example: Strong online bachelor’s degree options run the gamut from respiratory therapy to criminal justice.)

Not only is your range of online education options greater than ever before, statistics show that the number of university students taking classes or pursuing their degree online continued to show significant growth in 2017, as overall post secondary enrollments continued to fall. Here is a closer look at some of the reasons why:

Scheduling Flexibility — Are you a night owl who does your best work after midnight? An early bird whose brain cells start chirping pre-dawn? No problem. Online degree programs enable you to basically set your own schedule and do the work on your own time while meeting (usually weekly) deadlines.

School-Work-Life Balance — Got a job? Got a family? Online degree programs make it easier for you to say: I got this. That’s because they are typically designed with the needs of working adults and family obligations in mind. This can be a game-changer for working parents and students who have challenging or unpredictable work schedules.

Online Diploma = On-Campus Diploma — Not all educational opportunities are created equal, but the diploma or degree you will earn as an online student is equivalent to that earned by your on-campus counterparts. Much more important to potential employers is the name and the reputation of the institution you attend.

Support Network — Just as with an on-campus program, you’ll have access to an academic advisor and additional support to help you navigate all of the challenges involved in earning your degree. And just as with any on-campus program, the faculty and administration will be invested in helping you succeed in reaching your goals.

No Career Interruptions — Before the rise of online education, going back to school to advance your career could often mean quitting your job. But with online learning, you can earn your degree with virtually no impact on your work schedule. Not only will your employer appreciate this, many companies and industries offer tuition support and even pay raises for employees who earn an advanced degree in a related field.

Expanded Choice of Schools — How many schools are within a 30- to 60-minute commute from your home? How many do you have access to when you choose to earn your degree online? Answer: Exact numbers will vary, but with online learning the world is your academic oyster. As long as you have internet access, it makes no difference whether you live in the middle of the Midwest, out past El Paso or a stone’s throw from Buffalo. Bonus: You also may not have to pay out-of-state tuition.

Global Classroom — Speaking of the global perspective, unlike an on-campus program where the majority of your fellow students might come from nearby, in online degree programs students are connected to the classroom by technology not geography. And because online programs typically feature a stronger interactive learning component, you may be more likely to exchange ideas with students from different places and cultures who bring an entirely different perspective to your chosen field of study.

Academic Readiness — The once traditional path of graduating from high school and starting college the next fall is not for everyone; and for a certain percentage of incoming freshman each year, their first year of college is also their last. But once you’ve decided it’s time to do your homework, find the right school, submit an application and gain admission to an online degree program, odds are high that you’ll be ready to hit the books and work efficiently to achieve your goal — earning your degree.

A Smart Investment in Your Future — There’s no doubt about it: Earning an academic degree represents a significant investment in your future. But here too, there can be significant advantages to choosing on online program. In some cases, online programs are less expensive than their on-campus equivalent, since the college or university is not investing additional resources in land, buildings, infrastructure and more. As an online student, you will also save money on such typical on-campus expenses as student fees, room and board, meals and transportation.

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