5 Benefits of Completing an Online Community College Program

Online Community College Benefits

  • Money
  • Balance
  • Build Career Capital
  • Get Computer Savvy
  • Networking

Attending community college can offer a wealth of benefits. Most offer smaller class sizes, more personalized attention, and have transfer agreements with local Universities. Some students opt to begin their college career at a community college to save money and to help balance their career aspirations while keeping a healthy work/life balance.

Among the options offered to community college students is the opportunity to take classes online. Many students value the flexibility and convenience that virtual classes offer. Others, however, remain skeptical. In a 2015 study from UCDavis found that these courses were less effective than courses taught face to face.

Citing lack of time management and poor matches between learning styles and the course content, the results raised legitimate concerns about whether or not virtual education is worth considering. However, there are still many benefits to completing online programs to keep in mind when considering which courses to take.

Resource: The 50 Best Online Community Colleges

1. Money

College isn't cheap. The upfront costs (tuition, books) coupled with the hidden costs (parking permits or the massive coffee habit you developed) can make getting an education out of reach for many students. One way to lower the overall costs of education is to use e-courses. Not only are virtual courses usually cheaper per credit, many community colleges have begun accepting credits from Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC). These free classes are a great way to complete remedial and foundational classes for free. Additionally, there is no commute, and there is often no "activity fee".

2. Balance

Many students are working professionals with families. After a full day at work, commuting to campus for classes is a daunting task. You're not only fatigued by the time you arrive in class, but you are missing out on time spent with your family. Getting an education shouldn't keep you from being a good parent or a productive employee. One way to solve this problem is to complete your courses virtually. Students can listen to lectures at their leisure, complete assignments, network with classmates, and complete exams all from the comfort of home. Work when you are most productive, listen to lectures during your commute, and avoid the stress of showing up to class on-time after a long, hard day.

3. Build Career Capital

No doubt, continuing education is a necessity for career growth. Whether you are simply picking up a new skill (like coding) or completing a certificate program with an accredited school, virtual learning allows you to increase your career capital without taking a sabbatical from your job. The credits are often transferable to larger universities and can be put towards another degree program.

4. Get Computer Savvy

I am reminded of a statistics class that was taught entirely on the Internet. In order to complete the course, students had to master the Learning Management System (LMS), as well as several other Microsoft programs. The biggest challenge for some students was not the coursework itself but learning to navigate the different programs that were needed to pass the class. In the end, students who were once quite timid around technology became confident internet users.

5. Networking

Don't think that just because it is a virtual course you will be spared from group work. Often, classes will require students to work together to complete projects. This is a great way to meet people from all over. With virtual courses, your professors and fellow students are always just a few clicks away.

Some people need the experience of a classroom to learn some subjects effectively. Hybrid programs exist to help facilitate that interaction. However, the value of alternative education methods cannot be overlooked.