School often can be seen as a full time job and as time consuming as one. Going to college is so important but at what sacrifice? Many of us live a lifestyle that we love and going to school doesn’t have to change that. Here are 5 reasons why if you are like me (not willing to give up your outdoor hobbies) online school might be the better option.
1. Eliminate Culture Shock
The initial nervous excitement experienced by college freshmen is often followed by homesickness and depression. For the 30% of students who drop out their first year, this period of culture shock is the beginning of the end of their education. The other 70% cope with the transition by focusing on their studies, making friends, and getting involved in activities. However, another period of culture shock awaits them, when they re-enter life outside the insulated school environment.
Virtual degree programs like the online MBA at USC bypass the transitional periods of entering and leaving college, and the emotional and physical wear and tear that accompany them. Online students skip the alternate reality of a college campus as they stay engaged in the real life activities of their families and communities while continuing to better themselves through education. Then, having earned their degrees, graduates hit the ground running, without the need for a psychological re-entry period.
2. Skip the Freshman 15
The freshman 15 refers to the number of pounds gained by college freshmen during their first year. Although not everyone gains this specific amount, research indicates that this demographic does indeed gain 5.5 times more weight than the general population. This occurrence is attributed to the seemingly unavoidable college lifestyle of eating unhealthy food, staying up late, snacking while studying, and sitting for extended periods of time.
Online school allows young people to experience the same learning gains as their brick-and-mortar counterparts, but without being forced to adopt the same unhealthy lifestyle. They can continue to eat the same foods and follow the same exercise routines to which they are accustomed, and can take as many stretch breaks during a class as needed to maintain good circulation. They also are less likely to binge eat (or drink) for emotional reasons.
3. Avoid the Dorm and the Commute
New college students have the choice to live on campus or commute, two options that both take their toll on health. Driving to school can save thousands of dollars in housing expenses, but coping with traffic and parking can produce a great deal of anxiety. On the other hand, living in a dorm puts young people at risk for a slew of infections ranging from strep throat to life-threatening illnesses like meningitis.
Studying at home not only saves money in housing costs and gasoline, it also benefits a person’s physical and mental health. Being socially distanced from other students is an obvious benefit of not living in a dorm. Likewise, students avoid the high physical and psychological costs of commuting, including high blood pressure and anxiety, impaired thinking, and musculoskeletal issues.
4. Get Some Fresh Air
Indoor air quality on college campuses is notoriously poor. Particulate matter, high carbon dioxide levels, mold, and airborne pathogens are some of the pollutants encountered in classrooms and other common areas. Combined with infectious agents on fomites, it is no wonder that illnesses spread so quickly within schools. Being inside all day also deprives people of vitamin D, a deficiency of which is linked to a host of problems from the flu to depression.
One of the best perks of online school is that the school day can take place almost anywhere. A home environment is generally much cleaner, and people are already accustomed to the pollen, bacteria, and other particulates that occur there. In addition, there is nothing to stop distance learners from opening the windows or taking their laptops outside in the sunshine.
5. Think for Yourself
While collaborative learning is a potentially positive outcome of working in small academic groups, the flip side of the collaboration coin is something known as groupthink, which is faulty decision-making by groups under stress. Unfortunately, it is a phenomenon to which unsuspecting college students can fall prey. Tragic examples of fraternity hazings and wild parties are all too common in groups of young people making decisions based on the advice of their peers.
The benefit of online learning is that collaboration with peers still exists, but that it is mentored by an experienced professor. The focus of an online degree is much more personalized, and students are less likely to make life-changing bad decisions. Students enjoy a calmer, more focused environment where they learn to think for themselves and make health-affirming decisions without anxiety-inducing social pressures.
Online school puts students in control of not just their own learning, but of their own psychological and physical health as well. Thanks to the multitude of educational platforms that now exist, they don’t have to experience the trauma of the campus environment, endure a commute, or be subject to the germs and whims of a multitude of peers. Whether entering college for the first time or returning for an advanced degree, students can stay happy and safe at home and focus on what really matters: their education.