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Can You Get a Bachelor’s Degree Online? Absolutely. Here’s Why You Should.
Bachelor’s degrees remain the gold standard for long-term career and earnings stability. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that Americans with a bachelor’s degree have median weekly earnings of $1,173, compared to just $712 a week for those who have a high school diploma.
It’s no surprise that the number of students completing bachelor’s degrees continues to rise. From 2012 to 2019, all bachelor’s degree completions rose 12%. However, the majority of this bump comes from online bachelor’s degrees, which have experienced 61.4% growth in that same time period.
One of the top reasons for the skyrocketing growth of online bachelor’s degrees? It’s not just first-time undergraduates who are capitalizing on the value of bachelor’s degrees. Students who fit into the “Some college, no degree” category are also returning to school in droves. According to the National Student Clearinghouse (NSC) Research Center, nearly 1 million Americans who dropped out of college returned to school between 2015 and 2019 to earn an undergraduate degree or certificate. Of the 36 million people who make up the “Some college, no degree” cohort, the average age is 39. These are working professionals who can’t afford to pause their career to get their bachelor’s degree, making online college a natural fit.
Let’s look at why working professionals are choosing online bachelor’s degrees and how you can follow in their footsteps to successful degree completion.
5 Advantages of Online Bachelor’s Degree Programs
If you need to balance your education, professional and personal life all at once, online bachelor’s degrees are hard to beat.
Here are 5 of the top advantages of earning your bachelor’s degree online:
- Increased Flexibility: Online bachelor’s degree programs are built to work around your schedule. From evening classes to recorded lectures and rolling course start dates, you can decide when and how is best for you to earn your bachelor’s degree.
- Lower Opportunity Cost: While tuition costs vary widely, there’s one truth about affordability that transcends institutions—you don’t have to quit your job. Since you’re still earning your full income, you aren’t sacrificing pay in addition to paying tuition. You also save on transportation costs, living expenses and other fees related to on-campus programs.
- Greater Diversity of Peers: Many working adults feel awkward about joining a classroom full of 18 to 22 year olds. By getting your bachelor’s degree online, you surround yourself with students of all ages, backgrounds and geographies, resulting in a rich learning environment where you can better relate to your peers.
- Higher Transfer Credit Acceptance: Many online bachelor’s degree programs accept more transfer credit than their on-campus counterparts. While most on-campus programs are built for traditional, 4-year students, online degrees are especially friendly when it comes to accepting associate’s degrees, certificates and past college credits. For example, at Franklin University, you can transfer up to 94 credits into a bachelor’s degree program, which roughly amounts to 3 years worth of credit.
- Increased Speed to Completion: In an online bachelor’s degree program, you set the pace for how quickly you earn your degree. Since online courses are often 6 to 12 weeks (compared to a standard 15 week semester) you’ll earn more credits in less time with an online bachelor’s program.
How an Online Bachelor’s Degree Program Works
For someone who hasn’t taken an online course, it can be hard to imagine what it’s like to complete a bachelor’s degree online. While there are many variations from school to school and course to course, here’s an overview of what you can expect from online bachelor’s degree programs.
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- Scheduling courses: Many online students choose to take one course at a time, but you can also double up if you want to move faster. Online courses typically start every 6 weeks, so there’s no waiting full semesters before you can sign up for the next session.
- Course formats: There are two types of online courses: synchronous and asynchronous. Synchronous courses require you to be logged in at a specific time for class, much the same as an on-campus class. Asynchronous courses are more self-led and don’t have specific meeting times. Most of the time, online bachelor’s programs offer a combination of both of these types of courses to build in more flexibility for working students.
- Meet Sessions: In synchronous courses, you will participate in live lectures and group discussions. These are typically scheduled once or twice a week depending on the course. These sessions are always recorded for students who may not be able to attend due to scheduling conflicts or students who just want to review the content.
- Assignments and Projects: You can expect to complete a wide variety of both solo and group projects. Typically, online assignments focus on using industry tools and strategies to solve real-world challenges. You can also expect to complete formal presentations of your work through video conferencing or recording.
- Evaluation: You will also have tests and exams, similar to if you took a course in-person. The major difference is these are typically spread out over the course of your class, not just conducted as a midterm and final. Shorter form assessments make it easier to course correct for students who are struggling and don’t heavily weigh one type of evaluation over another.
Similarities in Online Bachelor’s Degrees and On-Campus Bachelor’s Degrees
First and foremost, the bachelor’s degree itself is the same whether you earn it online or on-campus—the difference is how you take your classes. Unless you attend an online-only school, a recruiter wouldn’t know the difference just by looking at your resume. Also, online degrees are more respected than ever. According to a survey conducted by CareerBuilder.com, 83% of executives say that “an online degree is as credible as one earned through a traditional campus-based program.”
In fact, as online bachelor’s degree programs have gotten more sophisticated with advances in technology, there are many similarities in the learning experiences as well. If you choose a high-quality online bachelor’s degree program, you can expect:
- Interactive and engaging courses that use a multitude of teaching methods, hands-on activities and group projects to turn theory into practice.
- Face-time with professors and peers is facilitated through video conferencing, giving you a similar, collaborative experience as you would have in a classroom.
- Networking opportunities with industry mentors, employers and professional organizations are all available in top online bachelor’s degree programs.
If you want to take advantage of these similarities, make sure you are researching instructor-led, student-centered online colleges. A competency-based bachelor’s degree program will lack these similarities because it is completely self-paced, resulting in a solitary learning environment.
Tips for Being Successful in an Online Bachelor’s Degree Program
An online bachelor’s degree is just as much of a commitment as an on-campus program. Don’t expect it to be easier because it’s online.
Make sure you set yourself up for success by:
- Creating a dedicated learning space, whether it’s an office or even just a specific table, to put yourself in the right mindset to be productive.
- Planning your schedule around your courses and assignments and setting aside enough time each week—approximately 20 hours—to get your work done.
- Making sure you have access to the right technology and a high-speed internet connection, as well as downloading the correct software or applications needed for your courses.
- Finding someone to hold you accountable, whether that’s your spouse, a friend or a classmate.
- Don’t wait until the last minute to complete assignments and let the flexibility of courses hinder your progress.
- Make an effort to schedule time with faculty and peers outside of scheduled meet sessions.
Find the Right Online Bachelor’s Degree for You
Now that you understand the benefits of getting your bachelor’s degree online, it’s all about finding the right-fit program for you. If you want an experience that’s similar to a traditional program, but with all of the advantages of online degrees, find a student-centered institution like Franklin University. Franklin is built for working adults, providing the flexibility, relevant courses and in-demand skills you need to succeed in your industry.
Explore all of Franklin’s online bachelor’s degrees to find the right degree for your career aspirations. You can also see what it takes to start your journey to your online bachelor’s degree at Franklin.