If you’re considering an online college education, then you might be wondering who else is considering it, too. You may wonder if you will fit in with your fellow students, even though you might never meet them face-to-face. You can rest assured that online students come from a variety of ages, income levels and backgrounds, so you don’t have to worry about being too young, too old or otherwise different from your peers. Online college appeals to a wide variety of students, and you might be surprised at some current online learning statistics.

Online College Students by the Numbers

Did you know that most distance learning students aren’t really at that much of a distance? Approximately 80 percent of online students live within 100 miles of their school’s campus or other facility. That’s just one of the many surprising statistics reported by EdTech magazine. A similarly large percentage aren’t first-time students. In fact, more than 80 percent of online college students have transfer credits from another college or university. One-third of distance learners study business. Many online college students are already out in the workforce, with about 46 percent of students ranking career advancement as the number-one reason they’re pursuing an education.

The Popularity of Online College

Currently, most online students are female (70 percent), ages 25 to 29 (20 percent) or 18 to 24 (19 percent) and earning between $25,000 and $84,000 per year (53 percent). However, statistics show that the popularity of online college knows no bounds. There are online students of both genders and every race. Online students fall into every age group, from 18- to 24-year-olds to 55-year-olds and above. They come from every income level, from those making under $25,000 to those making more than $150,000 per year. Some online college students are full-time employees, others part-time, still others looking for work or not currently looking – and a small percentage of online students have already retired and are taking classes just for their own knowledge or fulfillment.

What makes online college so popular? As this model of learning becomes more respected, earning a degree online becomes more worth the time, effort and expense. Students have more flexibility in terms of when they complete their coursework and how many courses they take per year. Sometimes online college is more affordable than traditional college, and it can come with added benefits, such as the opportunity to graduate in less time than a traditional degree program. Online educations can be great choices for part-time and non-traditional students, but they also appeal to full-time, first-generation and international students.

The types of students who choose online college for their education are those who enjoy flexibility in learning, whether for purposes of accommodating work schedules, balancing family obligations or simply making the most of their valuable time. They’re students who are willing to put technology to work to achieve their goals and who aren’t intimidated by the prospect of working independently.