Is Online College Right For You? Pros and Cons of Going to College Online

Notebook with a pros and cons list written on the page and a pen resting atop it.Making the choice to go to college can be daunting. Whether you’re deciding to go back to school after a hiatus, or nearing your high school graduation and haven’t quite decided what you’re going to do next year, it is easy to get overwhelmed with all of the options out there. One option gaining popularity over the past few years is going to college online. A flexible schedule, never having to put on real pants, it may sound too good to be true to some people so here are the pros and cons of going to college online.

Pros of Going to College Online:

You can be in class from anywhere

One of the best aspects of online learning is that you can be in class anywhere with a Wi-Fi connection. Without a commute or worrying about parking, students are able to focus on their classwork. This also means that students from all over the world have access to education that previously was not available to them.

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You can be in class at any time

Online learning is ideal for a student with a busy schedule. With no set class time, students are able to fit classes in late at night, early in the morning, or even between work meetings. Fitting school into your schedule means that you are able to work at your own pace and find a balance that works for you.

Online schools are often cheaper than on campus

Online classes are regularly less expensive than traditional classes. Students are spared the high cost of room and board on campus as well as travel expenses. Students are also able to continue working full time while taking online classes, so they may need less financial aid or loans, reducing their debt at graduation.

You can complete your degree in less time

Online schools often function on a different schedule from traditional schools. Students may be able to spend a month on a class as opposed to 3 months in a traditional setting, plus online classes often allow you to take classes during months that are break times for traditional students, such as January and the summer months. Shorter time from beginning to degree completion means that you’ll be on your way to your end goal sooner (and maybe for less money!)

Cons of Going to College Online:

No classroom environment

The lack of travel associated with online learning is a definite pro in most cases, but with no centralized classroom, it is extremely difficult to create a community within a class. This is something that professors have struggled with as they have built their classes, and it may be something that you find difficult as you take an online class.

Without a classroom, finding someone to study with is a lot harder. Synchronous sessions are helping students and professors to meet each other, but they are not the same as face-to-face interaction.

Professors aren’t always available right when you need them

With a traditional class, you know that any question you may have during the lesson can be answered at the end of the class period. With online classes, you are at the mercy of your professor’s timeline. Most professors set specific times that they check their emails or work on grading online assignments. This means that a last-minute question or issue with an assignment may go unanswered until after the assignment is due.

Online degrees often come with a stigma attached

Although online degree options have gotten better and more diverse over the years, there are still many people who do not give the same merit to online degrees that they give to traditional degrees. This means that doing a lot of research prior to beginning a program is incredibly important. However, if you attend a traditional school’s online program, you may not run into this as an issue.

Online classes may cost less, but that doesn’t make them “cheap”

While it may cost less money overall to attend school online, the cost of materials for online classes can be hefty. You still have to buy books and you may need to buy new computer programs or even an entire computer on top of the price of tuition–which, while possibly less expensive than traditional college courses, is still not necessarily “cheap”.

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