As our lives have become busier and less structured, the world has become more flexible to accommodate us. We have many more options than our parents did. Relatively, fewer students than ever are earning their degrees on traditional college campuses while distance learning is becoming more popular than ever.
Distance Learning Gains Credibility
In the early days of non-traditional learning, options were limited and many organizations offered credits that weren't accepted by other universities or employers. Even degrees from legitimate sources were frowned upon by some companies.
While non-accredited institutions still exist, universities have taken the increased demand for new educational options to heart. Fully accredited online programs are now available in nearly every field. Some combine traditional courses with online courses, while others are online only allowing students to earn their degrees from home at their own pace.
Students from Every Demographic
The flexibility of distance learning programs has given opportunities to people from every sector of society. Stay at home moms and dads attend to their education while their toddlers nap or their older kids are in school.
People in full-time jobs take online classes nights and weekends. Employees who travel monitor courses from a hotel room. Seasonal workers cram coursework in during their down times, and then when their jobs pick up they temporarily suspend studies without any loss of credit.
Distance learning appeals to environmentalists who want to save the gas burned by driving to campus. It allows people housebound by medical problems to continue their education. Night owls can do their work at 2 am.
Flexibility Doesn't Mean Carelessness
Some students who are new to the concept of distance learning may struggle in their first course or two as they get used to the flexibility. Successful students must have the self-discipline to pay attention to coursework and get assignments in on time. They have the freedom to schedule their work, but they still have to get the work done eventually.
After a short time, almost any student can find a rhythm that allows courses to be completed in a more relaxed atmosphere. They can focus their time on learning rather than driving to campus, finding a parking space, walking to class, and waiting for the professor to start.
The flexibility of online courses will continue to expand as increased demand allows universities to expand their offerings. As distance learning evolves further, students will be offered even more options so that each one can adopt a unique and personalized curriculum that fits their lifestyle, their educational options, and their personal likes and dislikes.