3. They can be a gateway to challenging, new material. Online courses – be they traditional college courses for credit or massive open online courses – can be a great way for high school students to expand their knowledge or discover their passions.
Colin LeMoine, a 14-year-old rising sophomore at Preble High School in Green Bay, Wisconsin, says he's taking an online class on medical terminology at a community college this upcoming school year because he wasn't feeling challenged by his high school courses.
"I get to work at my own pace and if a unit is super easy, I can just breeze through it," he says.
[Avoid these mistakes made by online students.]
4. They can make a positive – or negative – impression on admissions officials. Successfully completing an online college class is a great way for students to signal to university officials that they are ready for college-level work, experts say.
LeMoine, for example, is betting his college courses will help him get into the school of his choice.
"I want to present myself as best I can when I actually get into college," he says. "The more classes that I take that are advanced, the more I get noticed."
But experts warn that taking an online course can also turn into a liability for students who don't perform well. Your college transcript, they warn, can follow you forever.
"Sometimes students think that because the course is online it's not as important or it's easier somehow," Livingston says. "What they will find very quickly is that if you don't treat an online course with the same seriousness with which you approach an in-person class, you will fail quickly and horribly. It's not class-light. It's class-different."
Trying to fund your online education? Get tips and more in the U.S. News Paying for Online Education center.