If you dream of traveling overseas but are taking online courses for the sake of convenience and flexibility, you don’t have to sacrifice your dreams of seeing the world. Many online college students still have the opportunity to study abroad.

Why Should Online College Students Study Abroad?

On one hand, part of the appeal of online college is that you don’t have to set foot on a physical campus. Study abroad experiences are the opposite of asynchronous distance learning, requiring you to take a plane, travel potentially to another time zone and find new living arrangements for the duration of your stay.

Study abroad isn’t for every online student. Students with family obligations, working students and active military personnel, for example, may not have the freedom to travel when and where they want to just for the sake of seeing the world while getting their education.

On the other hand, one benefit of online learning is that you can complete your education from anywhere in the world. Is it any wonder that students who desire this kind of freedom might also want the freedom to experience new places and cultures during their education?

Traveling across the globe doesn’t mesh with most students’ definitions of convenience or flexibility. Yet professionals who work in college international programs report that online students are increasingly asking whether a study abroad opportunity is possible for them, according to U.S. News & World Report. For many students, the answer is yes – as long as they’re willing to plan ahead.

Plan Ahead for Your Study Abroad Experience

Two main obstacles stand in the way of online students studying abroad, according to U.S. News: affording to travel and integrating the study abroad experience into their course schedules. Fortunately, careful planning can help students overcome these obstacles.

International travel can be costly, but grants, scholarships and other forms of financial aid can help students afford the experience. To apply for financial aid, online college students will have to find opportunities for which they are eligible, fill out and submit their applications and even write essays. This process can be time-consuming, but it can pay off in a big way for students who earn funding.

Students should research different kinds of study abroad opportunities. Exchange programs charge the same tuition rate the student would be paying anyway, according to U.S. News, so the experience may not cost as much as students think it will.

When it comes to fitting international travel into your course schedule, discussing the opportunity early on with your advisor is the best way to make a study abroad experience happen. The sooner you find out if you need to tweak your course schedule here and there to squeeze in a study abroad experience, the more flexibility you have.

As an online student, a study abroad may seem out of reach, but it doesn’t have to be – not if you take the time and effort to plan.