Thousands of high school seniors will soon decide: What’s next for me? But what makes this question different from in years past is that more than ever, students have multiple avenues for earning a college degree.
Students can choose a path that best fits their individual goals on their own terms. In the U.S., less than a third of undergraduates are considered “traditional” students, referring to those enrolled full time at a four-year residential college. Further, a recent study from the National Center for Education Statistics found that 62 percent of students work either full or part time, and 28 percent have at least one dependent.
For many nontraditional students, pursuing a degree online is ideal, allowing them to achieve their goals and earn an undergraduate credential from anywhere in the world, even if life gets in the way.
While some graduating high school seniors might not initially consider online education, the rapid growth of credible degree programs present a worthwhile option. Here are two reasons they should consider that route.
• Online learning offers flexibility during a gap year: The concept of pursuing a gap year after high school is becoming more and more popular. Millions of students graduating from high school desire to work, travel, volunteer or explore other interests before college.
[Learn how to decide if a gap year makes sense for you.]
One of the most desirable aspects of online degree programs is flexibility, which is essential for an activity like the gap year. Choosing an online degree allows students to pursue other interests without losing sight of a quality education.
While parents of high school students may initially be skeptical, online education can be a reasonable compromise that provides students with the ability to also travel or pursue a job, but it doesn’t come with the price of postponing or foregoing their education. Many universities offer hundreds of online degree programs that allow students to pursue their passions while also earning credits.
• Online courses allow for an opportunity to try: For many graduating high school seniors, the thought of leaving home to attend college can be daunting. Whether they are leaving family, friends or even a job behind, some students may not be ready and may feel unsure about whether they will succeed.
For students in this situation, online degree programs are a great option. While going to college online does require self-discipline and time management, online students are provided the opportunity to earn a degree without a dramatic shift in their everyday lives. Students can possibly complete the majority of required freshman-level coursework such as math, science and English online at the same caliber and rigor as at on-ground schools.
[Explore how to develop self-motivation skills before taking online courses.]
For example, ASU’s Global Freshman Academy allows students to take freshman-level courses online at no cost. If students successfully pass the course, they can choose to purchase college credit. This low-barrier, low-risk option allows students to try out the online learning environment and experience success in college courses before fully committing.
The takeaway: As high school seniors aim to create a path to a college degree that best suits their individual situation, they might consider online degree programs that provide flexibility and opportunities as well as offer the same rigor and credibility as a traditional college degree option.