Can Online Education Be Affordable?

Online education is radically more convenient than traditional learning. Instead of trying to fit a typical college course into your busy schedule – which includes commuting to and from the classroom – you can participate in asynchronous online learning, where you interact with course materials when you have the time and space to do so.

As a result, more professionals than ever are able to improve their career prospects without creating a gap in their employment history by engaging with online education.

Yet, many students can be surprised to learn that high-quality online education can cost as much in tuition as a traditional course. Though some online courses are available at no cost, many students do opt to pay tuition to ensure they receive the best education possible. So, how much should you expect to pay for your next online course?

It Depends on the Duration of the Course:

You can enroll in a cooking class that takes place over a single evening, or you can enroll in a school for the culinary arts which requires years of instruction. It should go without saying that the shorter class will in almost every case cost less than the longer program.

The same is true for online courses; there are online classes that require only a few hours of effort, there are short courses online that might span a few weeks or months, and there are fully online degree programs that take years to complete. Because longer courses require more time, effort and expertise from instructors, they tend to claim a higher cost. If you can find a shorter course that provides the training and instruction you need, you will likely find it a more approachable cost for a high level of benefit.

It Depends on the Effects of the Course:

Plenty of people enroll in online education on a lark, as a means of filling their time, pursuing a casual interest or sating their general curiosity. However, if you are a professional looking for online education as a means of boosting your career, you want to be certain that the course will come with impactful effects. The opportunity to earn certifications through an online course can increase the price, as can career support services like career counseling, coaching and networking opportunities.

It Depends on the Source of the Course:

To return to the cooking class example, there is an obvious difference between the quality of class available through your local parks and recreation department and the quality of class offered by a Michelin-starred chef. There also tends to be a difference in cost between these two cooking classes.

The more experienced the professor, the more information you have the opportunity to gain from your online course. When you are paying for education, you usually want to be sure that you are learning from the most highly regarded expert you can afford. Online courses from prestigious universities might cost more than average, but they will also give you more knowledge and skill as well as more attractive credentials to improve your career prospects.

Online Education Tends to Be More Affordable for These Reasons:

Though the costs of online education can vary significantly, online courses are almost always more affordable than their in-person counterparts. This is because online classes:

Do not require you to commute:. When you do not need to be physically present in the classroom with your professor and peers, you can avoid costs like transit tickets, parking fees, fuel and more.

Tend to utilize less course materials:. Often, online classes provide all study materials to students through their elearning platform. Thus, students can avoid expensive textbooks, software and other supplies and equipment.

Do not require students to leave work:. It is easier to fit online education into a busy schedule without compromising on other responsibilities. By retaining your typical employment, you can continue earning income as usual while boosting your career potential.

When comparing costs of any education experience, it is important to pay attention to the details. You might be able to find a free online class or a cheap seminar at your local community college, but if you want the best education possible, you might want to pay a little more for an online course from a prestigious school and a well-respected professor in your professional field.

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