6 Reasons Non-Traditional Online Courses Are Worth the Investment - America's Future

June 30, 2021

Professional Development

6 Reasons Non-Traditional Online Courses Are Worth the Investment

By: Ericka Andersen

Online college courses have been around since the Internet became widely available, but other kinds of classes — those not necessarily taught by professors or for educational credit — have gained massive popularity in the past decade. 

I first took one of these classes back in 2014. The price tag was high and I was skeptical, but the sales page, testimonials and teacher credibility convinced me to sink a large chunk of money into the course. This particular course was aimed at those who aspired to be online entrepreneurs — and it was intense. There were daily video classes, pages of PDF worksheets, coaching calls and a private Facebook support community. I never once felt I had wasted my money. 

Though I didn’t immediately become a successful online business owner, I learned so many valuable lessons about business, marketing, messaging and sales — things I continue to use regularly in my own business. Because I had no interest in earning a Master’s degree or going through traditional continuing education classes, this kind of course really appealed to me. But for many, there is a lot of hesitation — and that is totally understandable. 

These kinds of courses can run anywhere from a few hundred to several thousand dollars or more. Prior to the current era, only wealthier people could afford high dollar self-improvement courses, a la Tony Robbins. But times have changed and since 2014, I’ve taken at least 5 more online courses — never regretting a single one. Continuing education looks different in the modern era and I’d like to offer 6 reasons it may be right for you, as a young person building your career. 

1. Continuing Education Matters. Learning needn’t be certified by an actual college. As someone working in journalism and communications, I learned the vast majority of my skill set on the job, and from those around me. It can be impressive to have a Masters degree, but it’s not usually necessary to do your job wel. And it doesn’t automatically make you good at your job. We should always be working on our continued learning and just as people sink thousands into an advanced degree, non-traditional online education will take some investment. As technology and best practices change rapidly, it’s important to keep up with changing methods and tools.

2. Learning in Community. In my experience, the vast majority of non-traditional online courses include a group component. This is usually in the form of a  private Facebook group, or other exclusive membership community, where you have regular access to the teacher and other students. There is always someone to answer your question, help you brainstorm or help you work through whatever issue you are encountering with class content.

3. Passionate Teachers. While there are always exceptions to the rule, most teachers running these online courses do so because they’ve got vast experience with the material. Prior to setting up their course, they were pestered with questions from people because they were so obviously good at this particular skill or subject matter. They’ve demonstrated their personal success and you can easily validate that by looking at their work and website. A good teacher will make it very obvious in their marketing material and social media profiles that they know what they are talking about.

4. Go-At-Your-Own-Pace. Online courses have made it easier on teachers and students. Because many lessons are pre-recorded, teachers can reach more students and students can take the classes at their own pace. You need to be disciplined enough to actually partition the time to do the work, but the stress of needing to show up at a certain time is eliminated. Thus, students can complete their classes and work in their spare time — whether that’s at 5am or 11pm. This flexibility cannot be understated.

5. Lifetime Access. Interestingly, many courses feature a bonus component of “lifetime access.” As a way to ensure students get what they are paying for, teachers offer unlimited time to access the material. This can eliminate the stress of your investment being wasted if something comes up or you want to return to it later.

6. Valuable Networking. Taking a course in your field of work immediately connects you with others in your field. The groups are often like mini-mastermind groups, where you are able to brainstorm and plan for the future with one another. Because they are online, you are often connected with people from across the country or the world. It’s easy to create valuable friendships and partnerships that can last a lifetime. Additionally, you are able to reach out to the groups when looking for resources, advice or specific tools. 

Certainly, there are those who abuse the ability to make money online by teaching classes that may not be up to par. That’s why research is an important part of making your decision. Before making a purchase decision, spend a solid amount of time following the teacher on social media, reading class testimonials and ensuring the content is what you need. Many times, these classes are what you make them. Put in the effort and you’ll see the results. 

Many teachers will speak with you for free about questions you have and will certainly answer questions via email. Programs worth their while usually include extensive descriptions, plenty of social proof that their methods work and solid testimonies attesting to the success of their programs.

There are many teachers out there, and sometimes it’s just a matter of finding the best fit for you. It’s important to create goals for whatever program you choose and feel confident about investing in your future in this way. Spending money on reputable online courses can be part of your ultimate success. It need not be a “splurge” or a gamble, but an informed investment in your continuing education. 

I’ve yet to regret a single online course I have invested in. Don’t miss out on these incredible resources when the time is right for you.