The Advantages of Online Learning for You and Your Career
At some point in your professional life, you may find that you need to acquire more education or training for a specific job. A particular degree may be essential for the higher-level position you desire, a certification may be required to perform a specific job, or an update of your knowledge or skills may be needed in order to continue to excel in your profession. If you work full-time, you may wonder how you are going to squeeze in the time to travel to and attend classes - especially if you typically work late or have family commitments.
Thanks to technology, you have the option and opportunity to take courses online. More and more colleges and universities are offering their full programs online, and many certification classes and professional workshops are offered as webinars. Following are details on how online learning can help boost your career and enable your ongoing education.
You Can Continue to Work
There was a time when you had to quit your job or scale back your work hours to go back to school, especially for a full-time program. With online learning, you attend class when it fits your schedule. By keeping your job, you won’t have a work gap on your resume - something future employers could view negatively, even if it was to return to school. Another advantage to continuing to work while you attend school is that employers will recognize your time management skills.
Online Education Is Respected
Employers respect a degree earned online as much as a degree earned from attending a brick-and-mortar school. They understand that with the technological advances we have today, more and more employees are getting their education and training online. Because hiring managers value continuing education and professional development, having the relevant courses and programs in the education section of your resume will demonstrate that you are resourceful and have taken the initiative to stay ahead of the curve and improve professionally.
Online Learning Offers Time Savings and Flexibility
The beauty of online learning is you save time (as well as stress) not having to commute to class. You have the convenience of sitting down at an Internet-enabled computer without ever leaving your home.
In addition to allowing you to complete course work when it fits your work and family schedule, online learning offers the flexibility to choose how much time you spend on it. You can enroll in a full degree or certification program or take individual courses that only take up a few hours each week. With the volume and variety of courses offered online, you can pick up a course or two at any time in your career. Many of the courses offered are self-paced, allowing you to sprint through them or take your time.
Online Courses Address Students’ Changing Needs
Colleges and universities are increasingly focused on offering more career or market-driven courses, certificates and degrees that will better meet the needs of adult students in career transitions. Many schools now offer single courses for alumni needing to update their knowledge, certificates in new skill areas or leading-edge degrees in fields that promise to be the hot careers of the future, such as medical information, green technologies and cyber security.
Online Learning is More Affordable
Many degree programs and courses offered online are far less expensive than those offered at traditional brick-and-mortar schools. Through online education sites such as MIT OpenCourseware, edX, OEDb, Coursera, Skillshare, Udemy and Lynda.com, you can find excellent programs and courses from top-rated universities and instructors, either for free or a fraction of the typical cost.
In addition, by attending courses online, you save the expense of room and board at a brick-and-mortar school and the cost of commuting to classes, including the additional wear and tear on your vehicle from all that driving.
You Can Still Find Networking Opportunities
You may worry that online learning doesn’t offer the opportunity to network, but many online courses are designed to be interactive in real-time. Video chatting and social media tools such as wikis and blogs make it easy for students to connect with classmates and instructors. Online instructors often use innovative ways to ensure that students are engaged, which can create more opportunities to get to know them and work with other students. By studying online, you can become part of a global network of other professionals who graduated from the same program.
You Can Apply What You’re Learning to Your Current Job
As you progress through your online coursework, you will find that you are learning new things and best practices that can be applied immediately in your current job. This can help increase your value to your current employer, proving that taking online classes can also enhance your performance and productivity.
Your Employer May Pay for Your Continuing Education
Many companies offer tuition assistance to employees to reduce turnover and recruiting costs. If you take advantage of your employer’s tuition program while enrolling in online courses, studies show that you are more likely to be promoted (by at least 10%) and earn an average of 43% more over three years.
There are so many reasons to consider online learning:
- You’re looking to make a career or job change and lack a specific skill or knowledge.
- You don't have enough information on the skills and knowledge involved in the new job or career to know if you really want to pursue it.
- You’re trying to determine where you want to go and what you want to do next.
- You want to improve the quality of the work you produce or your performance.
- You need to keep up with the latest knowledge, skills and trends in your industry.
- You want to acquire credentials that will elevate your status in your field.
Online courses can help you stay sharp, focused, energized, and provide you with the skills and knowledge to understand and tackle workplace issues. They enable you to continue adding value to your job and for your employer. More importantly, going back to school online can provide you with the flexibility you need to build your career without sacrificing your job, family, money or even your social life. Given the many advantages of online learning and furthering your education, you can see that it’s worth trying!
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