The Greening of American Cities

Commute or Go Online?

find online schools

By Kimberly Brandes

While gas might not be at historic highs, it's still expensive to drive. This—and the fact that most people are already online—means that now is a good time to look at online education as a valid alternative to commuting to school. Why not pursue online learning instead of driving? If you’re a student attending a traditional school, consider the cost of a daily 10-mile commute to and from class in a standard mid-size vehicle that gets 25 MPG. That seemingly short commute amounts to a big chunk on your credit card in gas alone.

Besides the money, think about the time and energy spent driving in rush hour traffic or trying to find a parking spot in a busy city when you’re running late for class—time that could be spent studying, working or relaxing. If you live in a large city, you have plenty of reasons to enroll in an online degree program. Take your life back—spend less time driving and more time studying in creative locations where you can enjoy the sights your city has to offer.

Discover Where Online Learning Can Take You

Getting an online degree can save you time and money in the long run. Learn about the public transportation systems in six major U.S. cities.

San Francisco, California

online learning in san francisco

Average gas price per gallon: $3.21

One of the advantages of working on an online degree program in San Francisco is the variety of scenic places to study. The Fisherman’s Wharf offers a beautiful backdrop to your online learning sessions, with views of the San Francisco Bay and Golden Gate Bridge.

Of course, the public transportation provides extra time for studying while traveling to and from various San Francisco Bay area neighborhoods. Getting from Oakland to downtown Berkeley will take about 30 minutes on the BART, a great opportunity to read over material for your online learning course.

Chicago, Illinois

online learning in chicago

Average gas price per gallon: $2.12

The Windy City is the fifth most expensive place to park in America, with an average of $25 in daily parking fees. Those enrolled in online degree programs can cut costs by taking advantage of Chicago's public transportation system and complete online learning course work during commutes.

If you’re meeting friends at the Cubby Bear for drinks before a baseball game, you can squeeze in a half-hour of study time on the Red Line “L” from the Loop to Wrigleyville. Or you can catch up on important reading on the Metra in the hour it takes to get from the suburbs to the Art Institute.

On those precious beautiful days in the Windy City, who wants to be stuck inside a classroom? Grab a hot dog, and attend your online learning courses outside at Millennium Park between Stetson Avenue and Columbus Drive.

New York, New York

online learning in new york

Average gas price per gallon: $2.25

New York City is known for both its excitement and its high cost of living. Many city residents don’t even own a car, knowing that the subway is the essential way to commute given the traffic congestion and the costs of owning a vehicle in NYC.

Between window-shopping on Fifth Avenue and visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art, you will find many unique settings where you can complete your online learning courses. Also known as the Merchants’ Gate, the southwest corner of Central Park has an outdoor free WiFi hotspot that continues through the fountain area of Columbus Circle.

Washington, D.C.

online learning in washington, dc

Average gas price per gallon: $2.19

While Washington, D.C. is a great place for tourists to learn about the nation’s capital, it can also be a great city to explore beyond the National Mall. A half-hour ride on the Metro Blue Line and a short bus ride can take you from the Smithsonian to Old Town Alexandria. After studying for your online learning course during the Metro ride, continue the study session at Misha’s Coffee Roaster Coffeehouse and stay energized with a Route 66 brew.

Seattle, Washington

online learning in seattle

Average gas price per gallon: $3.04

Going from Bellevue to the Pike Place Market on the King County Metro, you can utilize the 40 minutes of travel time to read up on your classes for your online degree program. Now that wireless service is offered on the Washington State ferries, you can bring your laptop, and take an online learning course while enjoying the breathtaking views of Puget Sound.

Boston, Massachusetts

online learning in boston

Average gas price per gallon: $2.18

If you're going to a Red Sox game from downtown Boston, bring your laptop and take advantage of the 40 minutes it takes to get to Fenway Park on the "T". After the game, you can enjoy the ice cream from Sluggers Dugout (a lot tastier than vending machine snacks at a traditional university) while reading for your online classes.

Other cities that rank high on the most wired list include Atlanta, Orlando and Raleigh.* Even if you don't live in the cities mentioned above, you can still find creative ways to make the most of your time and money through an online degree program. Why deal with the hassle of driving when online learning courses allow you to study from home in your pajamas or by the window of your favorite cafe?

Sources: *Forbes.com; Gas prices recorded as of January 2015.