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The Pros and Cons of Online Universities

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These tips will help you decide if an online university is right for you

You've made the decision to earn your degree, but there is plenty of work ahead before you start taking college or university classes. The first question many people face: How am I going to afford an education?

Thankfully, online universities are readily available for students around the world. These web-based schools are ideal for several reasons, including:

1. Flexible schedules—If you work full-time, it could be challenging to manage a work schedule and a full course load. Enrolling in an online university allows you to work at your own pace and earn a degree on your personal schedule.

“Students are taking online degrees because they can work around their job schedules and they can take more classes per term and complete their degrees quicker,” Kimberly A. Tobin, dean of graduate and continuing education at Massachusetts' Westfield State University, told MassLive.

2. Continuous access to course materials—Taking notes in a crowded classroom filled with distractions or missing a class due to illness could force students to miss out on important information. However, online universities offer constant access to professors' lectures. If you ever miss a session, you can simply log in to the online course and review the teachers' materials at any time.

3. Affordable options—The Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University are just two of the accredited schools that offer online courses to students worldwide. In fact, web-based universities can provide stepping-stones to enrollment in some of the top higher education institutions around the globe.

“If you're a random student from another country, what are your chances of being admitted to a university here? But if you can show you're a motivated student who's completing five courses and [have] done well on the proctored exam, I think a university would pay attention,” online education expert Daphne Koller told The New York Times.

Before enrolling in an online university, prospective students should evaluate how the experience differs from learning in a traditional classroom. The following factors should be strong considerations when you evaluate online courses:

Weigh the pros and cons of online universities and make a decision that suits your preferences. Remember, financing is available for online and traditional schools, so regardless of your decision, you can find student loans that will help you cover the costs associated with attending a world-class college or university.

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