The Pros And Cons Of Online Classes

Over the past few years, online classes have become increasingly more popular with students around the globe. That comes as no surprise when you consider the convenience that online classes offer. It also comes as no surprise that people are divided in their opinion of online schools. Some are all for it, others firmly against. With recent events however, it may be time to re-evaluate this form of learning. However, there are pros and cons to online classes.

The coronavirus pandemic and its emphasis on social distancing have put online classes in the spotlight. With the highly virulent nature of the coronavirus, many schools have been shut down completely. For the moment, classes and even exams are being conducted online. While this is considered a temporary measure, there are many people who may be reluctant to return to the classroom. If you are debating whether or not you should enroll in an online class, understanding the pros and cons will help you make an informed decision.

A college student's laptop with a book icon for online classes.

The Pros of Online Classes

Increased Flexibility

This is one of the most common reasons why most people choose to enroll in an online class. You don’t have to show up in classes and attend lectures at a fixed time. You don’t even have to leave your bedroom. With online classes, you can study when and how you want to. You can also study from anywhere in the world. The flexibility that online classes offer is unparalleled.

This flexibility comes as a special boon to students who have other personal commitments. Some may have younger children to look after. Others may be juggling work and studies. Regardless of the specific reason, online classes fill a need that traditional classrooms cannot.

The flexible schedule doesn’t mean the workload is any less for students who enroll in online schools. The workload is on par with traditional schools. The only difference is that online students have more flexibility in terms of where, when, and how they study.

More Affordable

Affordability is right up there with flexibility when it comes to the increasing popularity of online classes. Attending a brick and mortar university can be a fantastic experience. But that experience comes with a huge price tag. Almost all college students today have no choice but to take on huge loans to afford the ever-increasing college fees. By the time they graduate, they are thousands of dollars in debt, which can take years to pay off.

Students who enroll in online classes typically don’t incur nearly as much debt as traditional students. The lower fees translates to thousands of dollars in savings by the time the student graduates.

As an online student, you also save on the cost of text books, accommodation, food, and transport. This translate to another few thousands of dollars in savings per semester. Most students who study online don’t need to take any loans to cover these low fees.

When you consider all of the savings, it adds up to a substantial amount.

Individualized Learning

Being able to study where, when and how you study throws up opportunities for individualized learning.

To start with, as an online student you aren’t boxed into a one-size-fit- all learning approach. Being able to attend classes when, how and where it suits you allows you to create a customized schedule that suits your learning style. If you’re a fast learner, you don’t have to wait for the whole class to catch up. If you’re a slow learner, you can take as long as you need without feeling under any pressure to hurry up.

The biggest benefit of individualized learning is that it allows you to harness your strengths and downplay your weaknesses. This ultimately makes it more conducive to learning. It also boosts self-confidence and self-esteem.

Cons of Online Classes

Lack of Social Interaction

Social interaction is a huge part of the whole university experience. This is the time and place to make new, lifelong friends and learn crucial social skills. Additionally, it makes it difficult to participate in classroom discussions and gain new perspectives.

Limited Choice of Courses

Even as online schools are becoming more mainstream, classes are still not available in all fields. You may be able to find plenty of virtual courses related to business, history, economics and languages. However, you may find it much more difficult to find courses in chemistry, biology, engineering and other similar subjects. Hands-on laboratory learning is a mandatory requirement in all of these courses. This is not yet possible through online learning. If your preferred course requires hands-on learning, this may not be an option for you.

Requires a High Degree of Self Discipline

The extra flexibility and lack of accountability leaves much room for students to procrastinate. Many students struggle to stay motivated and stay on track with studying and completing their assignments. Self-discipline, time management and organization are crucial skills for students taking online classes.

Bad Reputation

Online classes have come a long way since they first started, with learning happening in multi-media formats. However, the unfavorable reputation they gained during their nascent years still persists. Many organizations still judge applicants with an online education unfavorably as compared to students graduating from traditional universities. It is changing but very slowly. It will be a while before online education as considered on par with conventional education. This could be the biggest drawback of online classes for a career conscious student.

The Pros and Cons of Online Classes

There are both advantages and disadvantages to studying online. Whether this is the better option for you depends on your personality and learning style as well as the field you wish to major in.

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