Looking for Eco-Friendly Ways to Get an Education?

by Michelle Fabio

Online degree programs have many benefits over their traditional counterparts, including lower costs and the convenience of studying whenever you like, but did you know they’re also kind to the environment?

That’s right! From the gas their students aren’t burning up to the paper no one’s using to print out every syllabus, online schools have major “green” advantages. In fact, a 2005 European study found that “distance learning courses consumed nearly 90% less energy and produced 85% fewer CO2 emissions . . . than the conventional campus-based university courses.”

Why is online education one of the most eco-friendly ways to get a degree? Read on.

  1. No campus. Without dormitories, lecture halls, and other buildings to maintain, online schools use much less energy than bricks-and-mortar universities. In fiscal year of 2008-2009, Penn State University used the same amount of energy as the annual consumption of 160,000 households! Online schools, on the other hand, don’t need to keep classrooms lit or climate-controlled year-round. This more than offsets the energy consumption caused by increased computer use.
  2. No commute. An online education means you don’t have to go farther than your computer to read, research, write papers, study, and take exams. If you do have to travel somewhere for your online class, you can minimize your environmental impact by carpooling, car-sharing, taking the bus, riding a bike, or even walking if your destination is nearby.
  3. No books. Many traditional universities have instituted programs to curb paper consumption, but with online education, all you have to do to make a difference is resist the urge to print. Most online courses provide all necessary materials via the Internet and communications via email. Class schedules, assignments, quizzes, tests, and more are often handled entirely online so there’s really no reason for you to use up ink and paper printing them. If all of your materials are already readable online, keep them there, and you’ll be helping save energy as well as trees.

Make no mistake: global warming is a serious issue, but if we each do our small green parts, we can work together to stop and even reverse its lasting effects — and a great way to start is by pursuing an online degree, the most eco-friendly option available.

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