Online learning is quickly becoming the norm. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, there were close to seven million students already enrolled in online college courses. Today, that number is higher, as more students are prioritizing their safety and health, and choosing to complete their degrees online.
However, this is not an easy decision for everyone. While there are clear perks to attending an online school, it can also come with many challenges. If you are debating whether to complete your degree online or in-person, keep reading. Below we outline the pros and cons of online classes.
Pros of Online School
1. Comfort and convenience.
The most obvious benefit of online school is that you can attend it right from the comfort of your own home. There is no worry about your commute, or even how you will juggle getting from work to class. Online classes can be completed at a time and place that works best for you, so long as you have internet access. This convenience gives you more time to study up on important subjects, or more time to spend with your family, and less time getting to and from campus.
Many students are also more comfortable at their own home, than they would be in a college classroom. This may be due to safety reasons, given the current pandemic, or simply due to their personality and learning style.
Online school is more accessible than on-campus classes, in terms of time and expense. Let’s start with time. Online classes are designed to work into your schedule, so that you can still manage to fulfill other obligations, like a career or childcare. For those with full-time jobs or full-time family commitments, a college degree may not be possible without an online option. Online learning is accessible to just about everyone with internet.
The materials and coursework are designed to be easy-to-access, 24 hours a day. You no longer have to worry about where you put your notes from class, or what the teacher said in that lecture. All of the material is available online, just clicks away in an online knowledge base. Going back to review the materials is always an option, no matter where you are or what time it is.
As mentioned above, online school is typically more accessible financially, as well. Online classes can cut the cost of learning in half. This is possible because online schools have fewer expenses and amenities than college campuses (such as food, dormitories, campus staff, and more). With online classes, you also cut expenses such as gas, parking, eating out, childcare, and other costs you may encounter when having to travel to campus.
4. Self-disciplinary skills.
Online classes are taken at the students’ pace, on a schedule that works for them. There is no professor telling them when they need to arrive at class, and when they need to put their phone down. Rather, students are in control of their own learning. There is more freedom and trust. While this may be challenging for some students, it can teach an invaluable skillset to those who put in the hard work.
Students in online degree programs often walk away with enhanced skills in time management, self-motivation, self-discipline, adaptability, and responsibility. They also learn how to organize their assignments, class schedule, and other obligations, and create a realistic work-life balance. These types of traits will carry over to an array of fields and occupations down the road.
5. Individualized attention.
In a traditional classroom setting, you may feel uncomfortable asking questions out loud. You may feel you are competing for your professor’s attention even as class concludes. Online courses can help eliminate this and provide you more of the individualized attention you crave. In an online learning environment, students can always email their professor directly. You can also set up one-to-one sessions with faculty, if needed, to get your questions answered live. Many schools are working to enhance online collaboration, and prioritizing the needs and success of students— specially now, as the coronavirus pandemic continues and distance learning is required in many areas nationwide.
Cons of Online School
1. Not all classes exist online.
Some classes and degrees cannot be earned totally online. Some fields require that in-person and hands-on experience that you simply cannot get in an online school. For example, aspiring nurses must complete a number of hours in a clinical setting. Science classes, whether in medicine or chemistry, often demand a practical component. Hands-on industries, such as manufacturing and machining, also need some level of in-person training on equipment. If you are interested in a career in healthcare, science, or a hands-on trade, on-campus courses may be the right choice for you.
2. There is less interpersonal connections.
Online schools do not typically offer the “campus experience” that many crave when they go to college. Some schools offer online classes live, in real-time, so you can still get face-to-face interaction with peers and professors. However, most will allow you to take online classes on your own time. Depending on your preferences and learning style, reduced social interaction can be seen as a pro or con.
The lack of social interaction is listed as a “con” because, for some people, peer interaction can be stimulating and engaging. It can fuel their learning experience, and help them establish more emotional bonds with professors and their peers. Without this interaction, some students may feel very isolated.
For others, however, social interaction can actually be very distracting or intimidating. This is why we also consider it a “pro.” Many students are introverted, and feel shy to speak up or engage in a class full of other students. These people typically thrive in an online, individual learning setting.
At Goodwin, we offer a hybrid format for many degree programs, so that students can benefit from the autonomy of online courses, while still gaining valuable collaboration time, via on-campus courses.
3. There are also more distractions.
Inevitably, you will find more distractions at home than you will in a classroom environment. Maybe your partner or roommate is constantly talking on the phone. Perhaps your kids always need to be entertained. Or, it may be that pile of laundry (or that new recipe you’ve been dying to try) calling your name. Those types of distractions go away with on-campus classes. To succeed in online classes, you need to be able to self-motivate, rid the distractions, and find a quiet, dedicated space and time to complete your coursework.
4. Online can be challenging.
Many people feel that online school is easier than traditional college. While they may be easy to access, online classes are not any “lighter” than on-campus courses. In fact, many online programs are more intensive, to accommodate for the flexibility of being at home. Just like any college or university, online schools recognize the importance of a degree and will ensure certain academic standards are met.
The autonomy that students receive in an online school can also be intimidating for those who lack self-motivation or time management skills. When pursuing an online degree, you will be pushed to review course materials, listen to lectures, and complete assignments at your own pace. While this can be a swimming moment for some, it can be sinking for those who may require more discipline.
Finally, the use of technology can pose a learning curve for some students. Students who do not have access to internet or a computer at home will find online learning challenging. Those who are not well-versed in modern technology, or students with special learning needs, may also feel held back in an online learning environment. While many online schools will have tech support in place to mitigate challenges, these students may feel more comfortable and at-ease in a traditional class format.
Finding the Right Path for You
Online education has its pros and cons, as we can see above. Ultimately, the type of program or institution to pursue will depend on your own personal needs. Do you require flexibility in your schedule? Do you desire an in-person, on-campus learning experience? Is peer collaboration important to you? Or do you feel accessibility and autonomy are more up your alley?
You can learn more about the differences between online and traditional classes here.
If you recognize both the pros and cons of online school, remember there are also hybrid programs available. These programs blend both online and on-campus learning together, so students can get the best of both worlds. At Goodwin University, you will find hybrid degree options that allow for flexibility, accessibility, and interpersonal connections in class.
Learn more by visiting us online today! Or, call 800-889-3282 to learn more about our online, on-campus, and hybrid degree programs.
Goodwin University is a nonprofit institution of higher education and is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Goodwin University was founded in 1999, with the goal of serving a diverse student population with career-focused degree programs that lead to strong employment outcomes.
- Pro #1: Asynchronous setup.
- Con #1: Self-discipline.
- Pro #2: Different perspectives.
- Con #2: Lack of hands-on experience.
- Pro #3: Professors that work in the field.
- Con #3: You have to be proactive to get connected.
Online education is an efficient and underrated alternative that allows the student to study at their own pace. It also offers flexibility to combine studies and personal life. All of this from the commodity of home. You can even learn while traveling around the world without giving up your education.What is the biggest problem with online school? ›
- Tech Issues.
- Time Management.
- Barriers to learning (Disabilities / Special Needs)
- Flexibility. ...
- Reduced Costs. ...
- More Free Time. ...
- Increased Course Variety. ...
- Career Advancement Opportunities. ...
- Increased Collaboration. ...
- Personalized Education. ...
- Enhanced Time Management Skills.
- The “Home” Advantage. Digital learning has made learning interesting and fun for students. ...
- Escape the Traffic. ...
- Saves your Time and Money. ...
- Best Online Guidance. ...
- Instant Doubt Resolution. ...
- Increased Convenience and Flexibility. ...
- Enhances Self-Discipline. ...
- Optimises focus.
Less Accountability. Online students can't rely on as much instructor and peer feedback and accountability as traditional courses sometimes offer. Instructors often update grades through virtual grade books and don't have as much opportunity for regular informal feedback before and after classes.Why do students struggle with online learning? ›
Time management is one of the most common struggles for diverse learners taking class online. Without physical boundaries or physical location changes it can be hard for students to organize their thoughts and time and know when to switch their attention from one subject to another.How does online school affect mental health? ›
Youth participating in virtual learning also reported feeling less social connection and higher rates of mental health problems, in comparison to their peers who could attend school in-person or in a hybrid model.Has studying online made you a better or worse student? ›
Online learning can be just as good for students if not better than in-person classroom education. Studies have shown that overall, student satisfaction with online learning is high. Of those assessed, 94% said it has or will have a positive return on their investment.Is online school better than normal? ›
Online schooling tends to allow for more personalized learning schedules and programmes to be adopted to fit each student's learning capabilities, whilst traditional learning tends to provide one type of learning programme to multiple groups of students.
- Barrier 1: Poor time management. ...
- Barrier 2: Lack of motivation. ...
- Barrier 3: Where do I get help? ...
- Barrier 4: Technical issues. ...
- Barrier 5: Cost.
- Online courses require more time than on-campus classes. ...
- Online courses make it easier to procrastinate. ...
- Online courses require good time-management skills. ...
- Online courses may create a sense of isolation. ...
- Online courses allow you to be more independent.
Short Attention Span
It takes self-discipline to be attentive and focused in a regular classroom setting. With online class, it takes will power to stay awake and focused. Short attention span have gone even shorter.
- You Will Have Greater Flexibility When Scheduling Your Work. ...
- You Have the Ability to Learn at Your Own Pace. ...
- You Will Spend Less Than a Traditional Classroom. ...
- You Can Create Your Own Customized Learning Environment. ...
- You Can More Easily Communicate With Your Professor.
Advantages of online learning
We can save time going to school and choose the best study time for you. The cost is cheaper than face-to-face classes. It is possible to turn off the camera and audio during the class because it is online.
The opportunity cost of your degree is less because you can continue to earn income while pursuing your degree (plus tuition and fees can be lower than on-campus programs). You experience the incremental worth of a degree, as you can apply the skills you learn to your day-to-day job from day one.What are the 8 cons of online education? ›
- Limited Teacher to Student Feedback.
- Risk of Social Isolation.
- Cheating is more brutal to monitor.
- E-learning is inaccessible to digitally illiterate people.
- Issues with Accreditation and Quality Assurance.
- Requires self-motivation and efficient time management skills.
The education that students receive from a traditional or online college is the same quality; both offer great educational opportunities for students. Which would be better for you depends on you and your learning needs. If you are a busy person, you should select an online program.What are the pros and cons of college? ›
|Pros of Attending College||Cons of Attending College|
|Higher earning potential||High cost|
|Access to more jobs||Opportunity cost of time spent not working|
|More learning opportunities||The availability of high-paying, no-degree jobs|
|Networking opportunities||Underemployed college graduates|
By some measures, the outcomes of online college courses were on par with traditional classes, if not better. In their first semester, for example, online college students actually get higher grades than their on-campus peers. After that, though, online outcomes hit a slump.
As long as a school is regionally accredited, colleges won't typically have any issue with whether the school is online or in-person. For students looking at more competitive universities, there are obviously additional considerations, such as AP courses or extracurricular activities.Are online degrees looked down upon? ›
In many cases, online graduates receive the same exact diploma as on-campus students. There's also no real need for you to reveal the online nature of your credentials on a job application, unless you just want to. If the school you attend is close to your home, it may be assumed that you attended classes in person.What is the bad effect of online classes? ›
E-Learning lacks face-to-face communication
A lack of face-to-face communication with the instructor inhibits student feedback, causes social isolation, and could cause students to feel a lack of pressure. A lack of pressure is a disadvantage because it causes students to abandon their studies more easily.
- Lack of Motivation in Students.
- Infrastructural Problems.
- Digital Literacy and Technical Issues.
- Lack of In-person Interaction.
- Lack of EdTech and Online Learning Options for Special Needs of Students.
- Course Structure and Quality.
Online classes can be as hard as traditional college courses, sometimes even more so. Aside from the hardware and software requirements and learning how to use them simply to attend the course, there is the added factor of self-discipline to get the work completed.Is college harder online or in-person? ›
One of the most common questions asked on this topic is, "Are online classes easier?" Put simply, the answer is no. Opting for online courses over traditional courses is not the easy route for your education. It's true that online courses offer more flexibility, but that doesn't change the amount of work you put in.Why is online school better than in-person? ›
Online courses allow students to learn at their own pace on their own schedule, which is an approach to studying known as asynchronous learning. This format empowers students to take notes, review lectures, and go over other course materials in a way that works best for them.What are the cons of going to university? ›
- You may not gain technical skills. ...
- You may not get employability skills. ...
- Contact time is less than at school. ...
- You'll leave with a lot of debt. ...
- You will be committing at least three years of your life. ...
- You're not guaranteed a graduate job. ...
- Lifetime earnings can be higher with an apprenticeship.
Why Should College Be Free?
|Pro's of Tuition Free College||Con's of Tuition Free College|
|Allows more people access to college||More people would go to college|
- Earn more money, experience less unemployment. ...
- Raise your voice! ...
- Call the shots—be your own boss. ...
- Transform your family tree. ...
- Invest in and shape our democracy. ...
- Never stop evolving. ...
- Pay it forward. ...
- Bring your ideas to fruition.