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When you envision the concept of community, you likely think about groups of people gathered together. But in the modern world, community connections aren’t always physical. In online college programs, adult learners may never meet their classmates, faculty, and staff in person, but they can still share genuine connections through a virtual world. 

This sense of community isn’t just a nice feeling—it plays a crucial role in the learning experience. Take a moment to learn more about the benefits of online learning communities.

Community Connects to Your Life

You are more than just a student. School is just one part of your life, albeit an important one. Your personality, interests, spirituality, family life, career, and more are all crucial aspects of who you are. Adult learners in online programs often feel this especially keenly. Whether you take on online college to finish a degree or explore a new field, daily life continues while you’re working hard.

Without community, you may feel like your academic life is isolated from your other roles and responsibilities. This compartmentalization makes it harder to integrate school with the other parts of your life. You may feel that your “real life” exists outside of school, and your online degree program is just a task to check off.

But an online degree program can be so much more. In a rich online learning community, you will be treated as a whole person by your classmates, instructors, and advisors, making school feel just as much a part of your “real life” as anything else. You’re not just checking off a task—you’re interacting with people who appreciate all that you are and all you can become.

This integration with the rest of your life can help you achieve a healthy balance across your responsibilities and enjoy a more rewarding college experience.

Community Makes College More Enjoyable

Imagine working in an empty office every day or spending all your time at home alone. Even if you’re introverted, you would start to feel lonely, bored, and uninspired in this sort of isolation. Research shows that social isolation can lead to higher rates of stress, depression, and anxiety.

There’s no doubt that community makes life more enjoyable, and that holds true when it comes to online learning. Learning alongside others makes the experience more fun and fulfilling. Whether you’re commiserating with a group over a tough assignment or celebrating your success with a classmate after you both ace a quiz, community reminds you that you’re not alone.

Think you need to attend college in person to make friends? Talk to a graduate of an online program that prioritizes community, and you’ll find out you can make friends you continue to stay in contact with long after graduation.

You can also invite current friends to join you on your educational journey. If you have a friend who is interested in furthering their education, invite them to take the leap with you and enroll in an online program together!

Community Encourages Networking

Some of those connections you make in school may be more than just friends—they could become professional holds a lot of truth. Many jobs are filled through personal recommendations and inside knowledge rather than traditional recruitment efforts.

Connecting with others can be an excellent way to broaden your awareness of different opportunities and make headway in your career. Networking is one of the best ways to land a job you love after graduation.

Consider adding classmates and other people you meet in college on LinkedIn to build your professional network. You can also stay in touch through email or by phone. Don’t hesitate to reach out to members of your network when you’re ready to look for a new position or want to learn more about a certain career path. These connections can provide essential information and may even pass your name or resume along to a colleague.

Community Provides Support

One of the biggest benefits of an online learning community is that it provides support. College can be incredibly rewarding, but it can also be tough. Even when your classes are going smoothly, responsibilities and challenges at home or work can take a toll on you.

That’s why you should look for an online degree program that offers support through community building and practical resources. Whether it’s a professor taking the time to answer your questions, a career services advisor helping you think through your goals, or a classmate walking you through a tricky concept, community can keep you on track despite challenges and inspire you with ongoing motivation.

A student services department may even be able to connect you with counseling services when you need them. A silver lining of the pandemic is that one-third of college students now say taking care of their mental health has become more of a priority.  Even if you have a great support system of friends and family at home, a supportive learning environment can help bolster your mental health and motivation.

Community Improves Learning

Community is also essential within the realm of academics because it improves learning outcomes. One study of online classes found that teaching presence, in particular, significantly predicted perceived learning and course satisfaction. In other words, when a professor was actively involved, learners felt they got more out of the course.

A peer community can also aid in your learning. Study groups or one-on-one chats with classmates can clarify and reinforce concepts you’re learning together. An academic success coach may also be able to connect you to tutoring services if you need some extra academic support.

Overall, community can make a real difference in your academic success and the value your degree offers you as you pursue your personal and professional goals. This enriched learning quality is one of the key benefits of online learning communities.

Learn about our flexible online college programs.

Community Fosters Collaboration

The ability to work well in a team is one of the most sought-after skills in today’s job market. An online program that seeks to build community is almost sure to involve some group projects. These provide great opportunities to navigate working with others in a virtual environment—a crucial skill in today’s remote and hybrid workforce.

Even initiatives students undertake on their own to form study groups, for example, can provide experience with collaboration. However you choose to interact with others, you can gain experience navigating group dynamics, whether you provide support or take on a leadership role.

Another exciting aspect of this collaboration is that it can bring diverse people together. You can broaden your horizons by collaborating with people from different geographical areas, walks of life, and backgrounds than your own.

Enjoy an Active Online Learning Community with MVNU

At Mount Vernon Nazarene University (MVNU), we understand the benefits of online learning communities. We build a strong sense of community in all our educational programs, including our online degree programs. Dedicated faculty and other enthusiastic online learners will come alongside you and help make your educational experience rich and fulfilling. Ready to get started? Apply now!

Online degree programs from Mount Vernon Nazarene University are designed with working adults in mind.

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