Oct 5, 2018 at 12:00am ET By Alyssa Walker

Why study online? You learn on your own time, in your own space, on your schedule. You have flexibility over what you study. And you can study just about anything. Studying online has more benefits than drawbacks. 

If this is your first time contemplating online education or you are on the fence about it, here are six reasons to do it. 

1. It is a great way to manage job and family commitments

If you are already in the workforce, have a family, or just want and need a way to pursue a degree or a program without uprooting your entire life, studying online affords you that opportunity. 

Need to study in the wee hours before anyone else is awake? Or only at night, after your official day ends? Studying online allows you to manage your work and family commitments by studying when -- and where -- you need to.

Studying online also means you have more flexibility in managing your study schedule. In addition to figuring out when and where, you can decide how to parse your work in line with the program's expectations.

2. The topics are endless

You literally have the world at your fingertips and can study just about anything you want. Check out Coursera and edX. 

If you need to learn something for work, you can. Interested in something unrelated? That's a possibility, too.

You should try to earn credits through an accredited organization. If you don't need to worry about that, check and see if the organization that sponsors your course offers any nationally or internationally recognized certifications in areas that you want to study.

3. You will become a lifelong learner

With the world at your fingertips, how can you not? Online learning fills a need across the workforce, academia, personal interests, and everything in between. 

Wanting to learn something for the sake of learning it should not hold you back. Online learning will allow you to open the doors to opportunity and inspiration.

4. It is cheaper

There is a clear cost benefit to online learning. Sometimes, online courses are free, and some charge a modest fee. Financial aid is also available on online courses.

Remember: if you're looking for a program, make sure it is accredited. If you need a certification, make sure a nationally or internationally recognized organization grants it.

While some online courses may be "free," they may not be worth your time. Pay attention to cost structures -- if they sound too good to be true, they probably are.

5. You can transfer credits

For college students who want to take summer classes, but cannot afford to live off campus over the summer, taking online courses through an accredited institution and transferring the credits is rarely a bad idea.

Before you do this, check with your school's registrar's office and ensure that your plan will work. Don't take a class only to learn that the credit will not transfer. Do your homework and set up your transfer plan well in advance of the course itself.

6. Employers will like it

Having online courses on your resume only boosts your job prospects. Online courses are great topics during interviews and show that you have taken the initiative to top up your skills and areas of interest. 

If you have taken courses in one specific field, that shows that you have a relevant set of skills in that area. It also shows character. 

Good online courses are not easy. That you stick with it while balancing work and home life shows that you do not quit -- and that you care deeply about what you do.

Find the perfect online course for you.

Alyssa Walker is a freelance writer, educator, and nonprofit consultant. She lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with her family.

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