When you think of online universities, you probably don’t think of Penn State, George Washington, Arizona State or Loyola University in Chicago.

And you really don’t think of Harvard or Stanford. But at all of these top-ranked schools, you can at least do some of your bachelor’s degree online, if not all.

The popularity of online courses or distance learning is growing and the perception of online education is changing and becoming more accepted, especially among millennials. Chris Cullen, managing director of the educational branding firm The Zodiac Group, says he sees any workplace stigma still attached to online education disappearing as more and more baby boomers retire. “Millennials have grown up in an environment that includes — and honors — online education. Gen Z will see a great economic and commercial value of online degrees — just in time for millennials to be in more senior hiring positions,” says Cullen. This means that when Gen Z hits the job market, their millennial predecessors will be making hiring decisions, so Gen Z should be less concerned about stigmas around online degrees. 

“Gen Z will see a great economic and commercial value of online degrees.”

– Chris Cullen

If you’re thinking of enrolling in an online program, consider whether you meet these five criteria, devised by three students who are already doing it.

You Might Move Between Now and Graduation

If you suspect you’ll move more than a short distance or even just want to travel more in the next few years than a semester abroad will allow, an online degree program can offer you that flexibility. Sarah Clymer, founder of TransferWays, a blog about transferring colleges, and an undergrad at Temple University’s online program, decided to do an online program because she knew she wanted to travel in her late teens and early 20s. As a result of her choice, she has been able to take multiple trips to Europe, each for months at a time. 

You Want to Save Time 

When Clymer was still living full time in the United States, she found the idea of losing precious hours commuting silly. “Even though I’m from the Philadelphia suburbs and could commute to Temple’s main campus, I did not want to spend the time or money on the train multiple times a day.” 

You’re Not Wedded to the Traditional College Experience

If the tried-and-true college experience of living alongside peers, attending sporting events and leaning into all things campus life hold little appeal for you, then you will not miss much being in an online program. That’s not to say there is no social interaction — you typically do interact with other students online — but the best friend you might take away from the experience is an Internet friend. At Temple, Clymer is vice president of Fox Online Student Association, a student-run organization working to connect online students and host virtual events. She admits to it sometimes being a struggle to get people involved, but the efforts are there.

You Don’t Need Immediate Feedback

Some subjects lend themselves to online courses better than others. Zach Heiser, who is doing his illustration MA at Savannah College of Art and Design online finds traditional art classes, such as drawing and painting where you’d normally receive real-time feedback, to be a struggle. “There have been times when I did not receive constructive criticism until the last minute, which was annoying since I would either have to redo the project from scratch, or I would not have enough time to make any possible revisions before turning it in,” he says. But when it comes to more traditional academic subjects, it matters less whether you receive notes on a completed paper in two days’ or two weeks’ time.

You’re a Time-Management Pro

Like in-person courses, online courses give you assignments and due dates, but they can require more self-direction. There’s no option to stop by the professor’s desk right after class or lean over to a fellow student and ask for help. Online students need to take the initiative to start email relationships with their teachers and participate in online groups with their classmates. 

Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide if an online education is right for you. But with one in four students taking online courses and one in eight exclusively taking online courses, know that if you choose to do so, you’ll be in the company of millions of other students.