Students have many options about how and where they decide to pursue a college education. Traditionally, students would attend brick-and-mortar colleges, where they would have a campus experience while pursuing their studies. In recent decades, students have been able to pursue a college education completely online, and such degree programs are often much cheaper than programs at more traditional residential colleges. However, attending an online college only makes sense in certain circumstances, and everyone considering this option should keep some important considerations in mind.

Career Credentials

One important circumstance when attending an online college makes sense in many situations is when you already have a job and just need to obtain a credential to earn more money or be eligible for a promotion. Many jobs would like individuals to earn additional educational credentials so that they can earn a license, an accreditation, satisfy the requirements of clients, or meet other conditions. For instance, many teachers earn master’s degrees so that they can make more money from their position or be eligible for promotions, and it is not very important where they earned the degree because they already have a job.


In such instances, it might make sense to attend an online college. For instance, my own sister-in-law earned graduate-level degrees from an online college throughout her career as a teacher. The university at which she earned her credential was not important, it was more important that she checked certain boxes to be eligible for pay increases and promotions. If you find yourself in a position in which you need to earn a degree and the school at which you earn the degree does not matter, attending an online college might be right for you.

Nontraditional Students

Attending an online college is also a great option for nontraditional students. Sometimes, student cannot complete their studies at a traditional pace because of family responsibilities, work schedules, and other circumstances. This is especially true for individuals who wish to complete their studies later in their lives and have responsibilities that must be juggled with the obligations of a student.

Online colleges often cater to such students, and in some instances, nontraditional students would not even be able to earn a degree if there was less flexibility in how their studies are structured. Online colleges often have more classes during nights and weekends than traditional universities and this makes it easier for nontraditional students to complete their work. Moreover, online colleges are more likely to have career counselors and other resources that are tailored for nontraditional students. The flexibility and lower costs of an online college makes these types of schools ideal for individuals who wish to complete their students at a nontraditional pace.

Campus Closures

As mentioned in a prior article on this website, attending an online college is also a great option for students who attend a traditional college that has closed its campus due to COVID-19. In a very real sense, most colleges were online colleges during at least part of the COVID-19 pandemic, as students were forced to complete their studies through Zoom without the campus experience. Nevertheless, many college students still needed to pay full price to attend such colleges notwithstanding such limitations.


An online college could be a great way to earn college credit and save money during this unprecedented time. If you need to Zoom into college because of current conditions, it might not matter where you complete your coursework. Of course, it is important to ensure that your college will accept all credit earned, but attending an online college because of campus closure could be a solid way to reduce educational expenses.

Hybrid Programs

Attending an online college may also be advisable if it is part of a hybrid program offered by a traditional school. Some colleges allow students to take certain courses in person and other courses online. This allows individuals to experience part of traditional campus life while having the convenience of an online education.

In many instances, this is a great way to “split the baby” between getting a campus experience and enjoying the benefits of an online college. In addition, such programs may offer tuition discounts since hosting online courses is typically cheaper for universities than in-person classes.

Buy the Right Equipment

It is important to purchase he right computer and other equipment needed when attending an online college. Students attending online courses need a reliable computer and adequate internet access so that they can stream lectures and access course materials related to their classes. Students may also wish to purchase a tablet computer that they can use to Zoom into classes while taking notes on their computer. Moreover, students should have a reliable phone that is capable of using all of the apps that may be required for the online learning process. Online colleges usually tell students the types of technology they need to complete their coursework, and students should take guidance from schools about the items they should purchase.


All told, attending an online college is a great option for a variety of students since online colleges offer convenience and flexibility that is not often available at many traditional colleges and universities. Moreover, online colleges usually cost less than traditional schools so attending an online college can reduce your educational expenses and your eventual student loan burden.

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