Online degree programs are more popular than ever, and it's easy to understand why. Avoiding lengthy commutes to campus and maintaining a self-directed schedule help those living in rural areas or those with strong family and work commitments still earn an accredited associate's, bachelor's, or graduate degree.
But what if going to school at home isn't the most ideal option? Distractions at home shouldn't dissuade anyone who's committed to going to school from pursuing a degree.
WiFi and outside access means online classes can be taken almost anywhere. Students with laptops or even smartphones can do coursework at coffee shops, airports, even on a bench in New York City's Bryant Park.
Accessing a wireless network is often free of charge, such as in Bryant Park or at Panera Bread. Many libraries offer free wireless connections to card holders. Stores such as Staples, Office Depot, and Wegman's grocery stores also offer free wi-fi in most locations, though it's hard to imagine getting homework done in the produce department.
Having a subscription to a wireless plan helps open the door to many more options. More than 45,000 T-Mobile HotSpot locations exist around the world. Verizon Wireless, Sprint and AT&T also offer wi-fi at a number of locations to paying subscribers.
Business travelers can use airport waiting time wisely to accomplish schoolwork. Airports around the world offer wireless Internet access. Wi-Fi Free Spot and SmallBusiness.com maintain lists of free airport connections, while Travel Post lists the fees of airports worldwide. Most hotels also offer free or low-cost wireless access for guests.
For those without a laptop computer, libraries are a great place to connect to the Internet. Most public libraries offer free Internet access to library card holders. Boston Public Library, for example, one of the country's largest library systems, offers public computers as well as wireless and hard connections for those who wish to use their own notebook computers.
Studying at the library provides a quiet, academic-oriented atmosphere. Libraries also offer hundreds, if not thousands, of volumes of resource material that can be easily accessed to help with class projects. One drawback to studying at a library, however, is the hours a library is open. The flexibility an online class offers only goes so far when you're limited to a library's schedule.
Hotspot Locations offers a searchable directory of more than 34,000 wireless hotspots. You can search by country, state, and city to find free and commercial spots in convention centers, medical clinics, gas stations – almost any place you can imagine.
Hotspotr is a community-driven listing of over 17,000 Wifi cafes and hotspots across the U.S.
Studying online does not have to confine you to your home PC. Enjoy sunny days outdoors or travel the world and still accomplish your educational goals.