Online Learning: College on Your Schedule

Everybody’s doing it.

From large universities to the local community college, online learning is no longer a novelty, but a solid fixture in the educational landscape. Whether that means getting a high school diploma, a bachelor’s or graduate degree, even some Ph.D.s, online learning — education that is delivered electronically through the use of technology — is proving to be a game-changer in the lives of many adult learners.

According to the Babson Survey Research Group, the growth of online learning has been “relentless.” Babson’s most recent study available on online education revealed that over 30% of all higher ed students take at least one distance education class and that online student enrollment has increased for fourteen straight years through 2016. (In California, the number of students taking online education classes increased by 18.0% between 2012 and 2015, higher than the national average growth of 11.0% during that time.)

That online education has made huge inroads comes as no surprise to National University, a higher ed institution that has led the way in making education accessible for adult learners. National offers over 150 online programs to students around the country and around the globe. National students are people like you, working adults looking to get ahead; career changers pivoting to new opportunities; single parents juggling work, school, and family to build better lives; active-duty servicemembers studying on base, and military vets transitioning to civilian careers.

As one of the country’s most military-friendly colleges, you’re as likely to find National students studying on base between deployments, taking classes online on a submarine, or completing assignments in-between clandestine ops as you are to find them connecting with other vets on campus at the Veteran Center — in short, everywhere and anywhere, regardless of their schedule. There are two things all National students have in common: they are motivated and they believe in the power of education. For many of them, online learning makes their educational goals achievable.

What makes online learning a good solution?

  • In a word — accessibility. Technology has virtually erased distance; the flexible delivery of online classes and an internet connection make it possible for anyone, anywhere to learn. Using technology such as video conferencing tools and virtual blackboards that allow you to access resources, share your work, communicate and collaborate with your fellow students and get support from your instructors, online learning means that the classroom is wherever you are.

Moreover, the delivery of education is often flexible, meaning that class can be “in session” at a time that works for you. Online education is generally delivered in one of two formats:

    • Synchronous online lectures scheduled at set times, just like an on-campus class, where you, your professor and classmates are all present at the same time.
    • Asynchronous pre-recorded lectures that can be accessed at any time on your schedule. Sometimes asynchronous classes are supplemented by set times for connecting with your classmates and your teacher. All students have the same deadlines for completing tasks and assignments, but instructional materials, lectures, tests, and assignments can be accessed at any time, night or day.

National’s unique four-week class format can make scheduling even easier. National students take one class at a time, with each class lasting four weeks. This kind of class format not only allows you to take a deeper dive into specific topics, but it allows for even greater flexibility for scheduling your education around other life or work commitments — or an option for speeding up your degree or taking a pause when life gets in the way.

Educational accessibility can make all the difference to working adults — as the personal stories of National students prove time and again. (For instance, read about how one National alum who suddenly found herself as a single parent, studied for her MBA while working full-time as a materials manager and taking care of a young child.)

  • Online education can be transformative. Whether you are just starting out in the workplace, wanting to advance in your career, or want to change your life or career focus, education can be key. Want proof? Here’s the story of one National alum who began her journey from hairdresser to attorney with an online BA from National (and later an online MBA as well). If you dream it, you can do it, with the right education and motivation.
  • Online learning is legit — if you choose a good program. Not all online learning programs are created equal. And here is where you really need to do your homework and not only assess the flexibility of the programs or schools you have in mind, but also the quality. Getting your online education at an accredited institution is very important. Accreditation not only ensures a certain level of academic quality, but it is also important for getting federal financial aid and for transferring credits. Getting a degree from an accredited institution may also be a requirement for certain industry certifications or professional designations.

If accreditation is a good signal of quality, the opposite can be a signal for caution. If a school isn’t accredited, has lost its accreditation or is in danger of losing accreditation, that can be a red flag. This may indicate that students are not graduating with the proper skills, and it can also mean a larger-than-acceptable percentage of students are not seeing their degree through to completion. If you are considering an online degree or any form of online education, protect yourself and your educational investment by confirming that you are considering properly accredited colleges and universities. And keep in mind that not all accreditation is the same either. While regional accreditation likely opens you up to more opportunities, the answer to what type of accreditation a college should have really depends on your specific needs and career goals. You can learn more about the different types of accreditation and other important factors in our blog post.

National University has been accredited since 1977 by WASC, the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and is home to several accredited degree programs, including the ABET-accredited Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. Learn more about all of our on-campus and online degree programs here.

  • The technology in online education is probably something you are already familiar with. Online education has many similarities to the work environments many of us live in every day. In an increasingly global work world, your colleagues can be halfway across the world in a different timezone. With the growth of remote work, you yourself can be working from home desk far away from your company’s HQ.

Technology doesn’t really care about distance. Much of our day-to-day business interaction is already accomplished through technology — video conferencing, texting, online chat platforms, and emailing. Online education is no different. Even if you are used to taking on-campus classes, transitioning to an online classroom environment isn’t as hard as you might think. With technology always changing at a rapid pace, becoming easier to use and more streamlined in capabilities, you can build upon what you know already while also learning about up-and-coming communication options as you complete your education.

Still worried about taking the plunge into an online degree or college on your own schedule? Our blog posts with a checklist for going back to school and tips for maintaining a work-life balance as you pursue your education from home have a lot of useful information that can put your mind at ease. So whether you are looking into getting an online bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, if you are still on active duty, or transitioning out of the military to a new career, National’s online education options can make it possible.

Online learning continues to change the way we learn, study and work. It opens opportunities that have significant career and life impacts, and it facilitates lifelong learning for career advancement or personal fulfillment. It can allow you to launch a second, or even third career. And for adult learners, today’s technology puts that education right at your fingertips.

To learn more about online learning at National University, please visit our online education program page.

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