Online college degree programs are known for their convenience. For many of these programs, students never have to set foot on campus and can complete their coursework on their own schedule. Online degree programs have long appealed to nontraditional students who are already out in the working world or have a family to care for and are enrolled as part-time students. If you intend to be a full-time student, you may not realize that you, too, can take advantage of the convenience of online college.

Part-Time vs. Full-Time Education

Because online college is such a good choice for nontraditional students, you might think that only the number of part-time students has risen in recent years. In fact, from 2001 to 2011, college enrollment of both part-time and full-time students increased substantially. Part-time enrollment grew 23 percent, while full-time enrollment surged 38 percent, the National Center for Education Statistics reported. You are far from alone in wanting to go to school full-time, and a number of online college programs will allow you to do this from the comfort of your own home or workspace.

The exact requirements for being considered a full-time student may vary by academic institution. Typically, full-time enrollment in a bachelor’s degree program translates to a minimum of four or five classes, or 12 to 15 credits. At the graduate school level, full-time enrollment may mean taking as few as six to nine credits, or two to three courses. At some schools, taking the minimum number of credits required to be considered a full-time student is not enough to graduate from the program within the desired timeframe. Even if you are enrolled full-time, you should discuss your academic progress and course selection with an advisor.

Benefits of Being a Full-Time Online Student

Full-time students choose to attend online colleges rather than traditional college degree programs for many of the same reasons as part-time students do. Perhaps you need the flexibility to manage your own schedule and complete coursework on your own time because you have family obligations, or work part-time or even full-time. You might even own your own business, and have decided to improve your education without giving up your entrepreneurship. If your desired school is too far away for you to conveniently commute there, earning your degree online instead of on-campus could save you a good deal of money, since you won’t have to travel and pay for room and board on campus. As a full-time student, you may also be eligible for more financial aid than a part-time student would.

Every online degree program is different, but you can find a full-time program that’s right for you. While some are tailored to help part-time students complete their education, others provide opportunities for full-time students to earn their degree at the same rapid pace as they could through a traditional program. When choosing to enroll as a full-time online student, make sure your school offers full-time programs.