Online learning has been growing in popularity for several years, but it has truly experienced a boom during the current coronavirus pandemic. As colleges, schools, and universities across the world were forced to close their doors, more time and investment were poured into digital technologies for virtual study. This has resulted in some fantastic developments in the field, and it is safe to say that distance learning is no longer just a substandard alternative to holding classes on campus.

This is particularly great news if you have been thinking about going back to school to get your master’s degree but have been put off by the need to attend classes in person or being unable to fit college around your current life circumstances. Of course, enrolling in a college degree is a big commitment in terms of both time and money, so if you are still unsure about the validity of studying for a master’s online, hopefully, this post will put your mind at rest.

The benefits of getting a master’s degree

Before looking at online courses specifically, let us talk about the general advantages of having a master’s degree. Firstly, it boosts your employability and earning potential, because more and more jobs are listing master’s degrees as a requirement. Those who hold a postgraduate qualification tend to have lower rates of unemployment, in addition to higher earning potential. This is because you gain a high level of subject knowledge and skills through your studies, and also demonstrate your commitment to personal development – all of which employers find appealing.

Alongside your specific subject, you will also work on several abilities known as ‘soft skills. These include interpersonal communication and other people skills, characteristics such as motivation and flexibility, plus organizational and time management skills. These often play a large role in how well you fit into a company and job role and are relevant no matter which industry you go on to work in.

Women in STEM organizations support bridging the gender gap in these industries, especially in technology fields, through skill building, networking, and STEM job opportunities.

Lastly, doing a master’s degree can be a great networking opportunity. You will meet several equally dedicated students in your cohort, as well as academic staff and industry experts. As a student, you often have the opportunity to attend events – either virtually or in person – during which you can make valuable contacts for your future. This is true whether you are hoping to change careers completely, or progress further within your current field. It can also be a stepping-stone to a Ph.D. if further education is a path that interests you.

The benefits of studying for a master’s online

Turning to distance master’s courses, perhaps the main benefit of doing an online MS in computer science or other such program is the flexibility. Virtual learning enables you to study at a time, place, and pace that suits you, meaning that you can fit your degree around any existing work or family commitments that you might have. This makes it a great option for those who wish to work while they study, or who are otherwise unable to relocate to attend classes on campus.

As such, distance learning means you can design a study schedule that perfectly fits your lifestyle. Whether you like to study first thing in the morning before the kids wake up, during your lunch break at work, or late at night when everyone else has gone to bed, the choice is yours. While you might not have access to a campus library, you can choose to study in the peace of your own home office, a local library, or amid the creative bustle of a coffee shop.

Not only that, but online study can often be cheaper. This is partly due to some courses offering lower tuition fees, and partly because you do not have to cover extra costs such as commuting to campus or finding accommodation near college during the semester. Combined with the ability to keep your day job, the financial benefits of distance learning can quickly add up.

Another advantage is that you will be using cutting-edge technology as part of your studies, including virtual learning environments and innovative software. This can be a great way to improve your IT skills and gives you an edge when using these kinds of systems in the workplace because you can get used to them in a low-pressure and supportive environment.

In addition to enjoying all of these benefits, you can rest assured that employers do not look down on online degrees as being somehow less valid than traditional ones. This might have been the case in the past, but these days it is a much more common option. As long as the degree has the relevant accreditation for your industry, you will not be putting yourself at a disadvantage by taking it online. Plus, your lecturers and college support services will all be available at the other end of a phone call or email to help you out if and when you need them.

Potential downsides of online study

Having covered the advantages, there are some possible negative factors about online degrees that you should be aware of before enrolling in one. The main issue to be aware of is that your college experience will be different. If you are hoping to attend sports events, join extracurricular clubs, and socialize with your classmates at bars and coffee houses, then you might be left unsatisfied by distance learning. This is not to say that you cannot network, make friends or socialize at all when studying online – it just means you will do that virtually too.

The other aspect to take into consideration is that you will perhaps have to take more personal responsibility for your learning with a distance course. There will be no one around to check up on you or remind you to do your reading. However, many postgraduate students find this extra freedom a benefit in itself, as they are treated more like an adult. Plus, you will develop your organization, motivation, and time management skills even further this way, in a manner that is more akin to a real-world working environment.

Related article: Fun Things to Do with College Friends While Traveling

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I need to let you all know that we are in on this together.  If you need to vent, talk, cry, or just have someone to talk with, I am here listening. Since I am working part-time at the local Kroger, I will best work it out around my schedule to the best of my ability.

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About Are Morch

Are Morch is a digital transformation coach helping hotels open their digital front door, reimagine their processes and culture, and transform experiences in a fast-paced world!

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