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The Mobile Family: How Online Education Provides Consistency in a Ever-Changing Environment

For military families, international families, and students living outside their passport country, the experience of continually changing schools, making new friends, and adjusting to new teachers is common. Though it can be exciting, living in an ever-changing environment can also be stressful and intimidating — even for the most outgoing student. Fortunately, online education can provide the consistency, community, and quality education students need to thrive.

Whether you’re a military or expat spouse seeking an advanced degree, a college student trying to juggle work and academic requirements, or a K-12 student beginning the school year in a new environment, online education may be the right choice for you.  

Online Education Provides Consistency

For families facing the challenge of frequent relocation, online learning offers both the flexibility and the stability needed for academic success. In fact, the Learning House reports that in 2014, 17% of online learners were active or veteran military, their spouses, or their dependents.

According to statistics, the average child in a military family will move six to nine times throughout their school career. That's an average of three times more frequently than non-military families. Students who take advantage of online education don’t have to worry about constantly transitioning between schools because their schooling travels with them — no matter where they are. And multiple time zones, states, or countries are not an issue for K-12 online students either — all they need to attend class is access to the internet.

Online education benefits more than just children; it’s also a great option for military or expat spouses who want to further their schooling. Because third-culture or military families move so frequently or may be stationed overseas with no access to higher education in their own language, returning to school can seem impossible. Thankfully, online colleges and universities easily cross borders, making quality educational opportunities not only possible, but also accessible, flexible, and affordable.

No matter where you’re living or what kinds of obligations you may have, online colleges provide a convenient way to fit continued professional development into your life. Additionally, military students and their spouses often are eligible for a number of financial benefits that help make a college education more affordable.

Online Education Provides Community

Online schooling is becoming an increasingly popular choice for many students across the country — and the world. A recent report found that more than 6.3 million students in the U.S., most of whom were undergraduates, took at least one online course in fall 2016, a 5.6 percent increase from the previous year. Additionally, the number of students studying on a campus has dropped by over one million between 2012 and 2016.

As more and more students choose to study online, strong, thriving digital communities are emerging. Thanks to chat rooms, video conferencing, discussion boards, and social media, connecting with other students has never been easier. Students have the ability to support one another, celebrate accomplishments, and share experiences — just like they would in a traditional school setting.

Online courses offer more than just an education behind a computer screen; establishing relationships with those around you via technology provides a enriching learning experience.

Online Education Provides a Quality Learning Experience

Just because you move regularly or have an unpredictable schedule doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice an education. Overall, 77% of educators believe that online learning is as rigorous as traditional learning, if not more so, and nearly 70% of all students find online classes to be as good as or better than in a traditional classroom setting.

An increasing number of accredited universities are offering online courses, too. Statistics show that 62.4% of higher education institutions offered at least one online program, an increase from 34.5% since 2002.

For college students, online learning is a cost-effective option. The total average cost of a traditional degree is $85,000, while the total average cost of an online degree is $30,000.

Online learning tools — such as e-books and other resources — are another benefit of distance learning. Unlike heavy textbooks, ebooks are easily portable, allowing for access on a smartphone, tablet, or laptop. E-books, videos, and graphs are also a great option for visual learners who may not find plain text effective.

As more and more colleges offer online courses, access to quality online education is becoming increasingly accessible. For families in an ever-changing environment, these online classes are a constant, allowing them to enjoy their transient lifestyle while continuing to grow socially, academically, and professionally.

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Liberty University, also referred to as Liberty, is a private, non-profit Christian research university in Lynchburg, Virginia. Liberty is one of the largest Christian universities in the world and the largest private non-profit university in the United States, measured by student enrollment.