Online courses are still a relatively unknown concept for many people, but for those of us who have seen many school years come and go, it’s easy to understand why online schools see increased enrollment year after year. For those who aren’t familiar with online courses, I’ve put together a short list of the reasons we hear, day in and day out, that students choose online programs over other options.

Aside from this short list, why did your family choose online courses? We would love to hear your story in the comments; we may be interested in learning more about you and featuring your story here on Learning Liftoff! Without further ado, here are five great reasons for college-bound students to consider online courses:

Reason #1: Students Learn to Work Independently

In grades K-8, parents are generally much more involved in the student’s education – and for good reason. It can be difficult for young students to stay on track without parental support; many young students just aren’t ready for independent work.

At the high school level, though, students increasingly become more independent both as young adults and as students. Mastering the art (and science) of working independently is a great way to prepare for college and a career, where one is expected to work effectively without a lot of handholding.

When a student learns how to manage multiple priorities and deadlines in an independent manner, this may mean greater employability in the future.

Reason #2: Students Can Work At Their Own Pace*

One of the greatest benefits we hear from online students is that they love the ability to work at their own pace. Spend more time on a subject they find to be difficult, breeze through a subject that makes perfect sense.

I should note the asterisk I placed here. While students taking online courses generally have a greater degree of flexibility, they need to be aware of any scheduling requirements through the program they choose.

Reason #3: Greater Access to Advanced Placement® Courses Can Save You College Tuition Money

With higher-ed tuition costs rising every year, earning college credits from Advanced Placement (AP®) exams can save you a lot of money before that first tuition bill hits your mailbox. In addition to saving you money, AP® credits can earn you money as well, as many scholarship providers take AP work into consideration when awarding financial aid to students.

In a traditional brick-and-mortar school, students are often limited in which courses they are able to take based on whether the school has a teacher for that particular subject. This can be a struggle for high-performing students who want to get a leg-up on college by taking Advanced Placement® courses in high school, especially if the student lives in a rural area.

With online courses, a wider range of subjects is often available to the student. In many cases, students enroll in online programs specifically for the access to AP® courses, which can easily cut a college tuition bill by hundreds, or even thousands of dollars when completed successfully.

Reason #4: Greater Access to Elective Courses Can Help Some Students Specialize in a Subject

In some cases, a student knows exactly what he wants to be when he gets older. For students with this type of foresight, the elective course options provided can allow the student to ‘specialize’ in a particular subject by taking additional courses. For example, if a student knows that he wants to go into international business after college, he may choose to take a few years of the foreign language of his choice – which he may not be able to do in some traditional schools.

Reason #5: Avoidance of Distractions and Peer Pressure

All of us who attended a brick and mortar school know that the experience can often be distracting. Kids passing notes and giggling in class, bullies on the playground and in the hallways, and drama between classmates are just a few examples of the distractions I remember from my years in public school.

For students who take their studies seriously and want to reduce some distractions, online courses may be a good option to consider. This isn’t to say that there aren’t distractions in online courses, we know this much. Additionally, peer pressure is nearly impossible to avoid as a teenager with lots of friends, but I highlight this point because these types of things may be encountered less often, especially during ‘school hours’.

Parents of autistic children are especially vocal about the home environment providing a greater opportunity for the student to excel in their work, free from many of the distractions that come naturally in a crowded classroom.


Enrolling in online courses certainly isn’t an option for every student. For those who have the ability to choose online courses for individual or multiple subjects, it’s an option worth considering.

Image by jameskm03 / CC BY 2.0

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