These days, more universities are catering to demand and offering courses online, as well as  (or instead of) on campus. You’ll find programs in every field you can think of available as an online option, all around the country, with large iconic institutions, small new educational providers, and everything in between.

However, if you’re about to embark on your first college education program, it can be a little tough trying to decide if you want to go down the online study route, or an on-campus one. To help you make your decision, read on for some tips.

Decide On Your Educational Goals

For starters, it’s important to think about what your personal educational goals are. Everyone has different targets, so what makes the top of the list for your friends may not be something you care about much at all. Don’t just follow others; make sure you really think about what you want to get out of your time at a university.

For example, if you are looking to meet a bunch of new friends, attend regular on-campus parties and other events, and join groups and associations that are campus-based, online study may not be the right fit. However, if you want to gain access to a particular degree that isn’t offered at your local university, and you can’t move away due to familial or work commitments, then an online course may be absolutely perfect for you.

Alternatively, perhaps your goal is to complete your studies for the least possible cost? If so, this may require you to keep living at home for longer, rather than having to pay for accommodation in a city far away from where you grew up. In this case, you could find your local university will suit your needs, or that online study makes life easier.

Put together a list of all the different goals you have for your studies, rank them in order of importance, and then consider how each one can be attained through either an on-campus or off-campus choice.

Consider Flexibility

For many people, one of the prime reasons to consider online learning is the additional flexibility provided. While this is particularly the case for people who have jobs they need to fit studies in around, or young children who can’t be left for classroom lectures, there may be other flexibility factors to think about.

For example, if you have a learning difficulty or a physical disability, you may be better off choosing an online degree, so you can learn how and where suits you best. For instance, when you study online, you can pause and rewind videos or audio files if your hearing isn’t great and you miss words, something which can’t be done in a classroom setting. Likewise, you can listen to lectures over and over again until something is clear for you, or re-read information repeatedly until it sinks in. In addition, keep in mind that many online learning programs can be better customized to suit individual needs.

Another benefit of this type of study is that you can choose to study at the time of day which works best for you. This might mean first thing in the morning if you’re an early bird, or late at night after the kids have gone to sleep if you’re a night owl and think more clearly when your surroundings are quiet. By being able to study when your mind is clearest, rather than simply because a timetable tells you to, you’re more likely to retain information.

Furthermore, if you’re a busy entrepreneur who’d struggle to commit to set lecture times because you never know what business emergencies or opportunities may pop up, being able to study online may provide you with the flexibility and peace of mind you need. You can study for just half an hour at a time, if this suits you best, plus you’ll save time because you won’t have to travel to a campus, find parking, walk to far-off lecture halls, and then drive home again.

Flexibility is a consideration if you want to have the option to choose a combined degree, too, or if you want to accelerate your studies or get extra credits for previous or additional studies or additional studies.

Ensure There’s an Accredited Degree in Your Area of Interest

Lastly, making a decision about online vs. on-campus study may be easier for you if you investigate where an accredited degree in your area of interest is available. For example, a very niche, specialized program may only be on offer at one or two universities around the country, and only through campus-based degrees; while a more popular option, such as an AACSB-accredited online MBA, may be available through numerous online providers.

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