Pros and Cons of Taking Online College Classes

Pros and Cons table

In the past decade, online learning has become more accessible as potential students discover that no matter what their daily obligations, they can find a way to obtain a degree working with their own schedules. Because so many credible universities are now offering distance-learning programs, students can have their pick of institutions no matter how far away they may be.


With little excuse for not pursuing higher learning in order to obtain a degree, more and more people are turning to online classes in the hopes of fortifying their careers and obtaining a good salary. Regardless of your obligations, the flexibility that an online university affords has become the major attraction, regardless of some of the drawbacks that exist.

Fitting Classes Into Your Schedule

If you are employed, have a family to raise, are housebound, live in a rural area, or are constantly on the move, distance learning provides a viable virtual setting where you can fit classes into your schedule. The ability to study on your own time, as well as repeat classes and lectures if you need the review is an extremely attractive factor when it comes to choosing between online or on campus learning. Having all of your study materials, including lectures and texts, accessible online whenever you need them is extremely handy when it comes to taking advantage of a flexible environment. For many busy people who want to move ahead in their lives, learning at your own pace, day or night, is the only way that obtaining a degree is possible.

Innovations and Advancing Technologies

Working on a semester or trimester system, even four to six week course blocks, is another positive aspect of online education. Add to this the innovations that are constantly developing in teaching protocols due to advancing technologies, and the attraction is clear. When the virtual community can come together through tools that inspire interaction, such as message boards, chats, work groups, and other innovations, there emerges a viable simulation of an on-campus experience that can be very suitable to learning and exchange.

Saving Money While Earning a Degree

Because taking online classes is usually less expensive than taking courses at traditional on-campus universities, many people who could not afford a degree now can do so. With fewer purchases when it comes to materials and no travel costs, students may be able to save money while earning their degree.

Self-Discipline and Responsibility

Wherever you have an Internet connection, you can accomplish your course work. But, and this is a big “but,” only if you have the self-discipline to maintain the continuity of a structured self-made schedule to keep yourself on track. The freedom you have taking online classes can become a detriment if you are not a self-starter. With the freedom to take courses at your own pace comes the need for greater responsibility, requiring the proper organization that allows you to create a workable schedule that you can adhere to.

Staying Focused on Your Degree

A great disadvantage of taking online class is that if you are not thoroughly committed to getting your degree, it can take years to obtain. Doing your assignments, reading the required materials, interacting with your professors and peers, and taking exams are all up to you. As opposed to an on-campus experience where your sheer presence in a classroom filled with other students and a present professor helps to add pressure and urgency to fulfilling commitments, when you are on your own there is a greater temptation to ignore these obligations. If you are easily distracted, you may procrastinate, and worse, if you do not have your eye focused firmly on earning your degree, you may drop out if you don’t feel inspired.

Time Management Skills and Trust in the Program

Taking online classes requires time management skills to help you stay on task. Additionally, if you do not trust that the courses you have chosen are indeed essential for the knowledge you need in your given field, you may drop out through lack of interest. Taking online courses requires a certain amount of trust in the program and a steadfastness that comes with discipline and drive.

Social Interaction

Not socializing in real time with live human interaction can be either a plus or a minus, depending on the type of person you are. Often on-campus class interaction can be stimulating, but it can also be a distraction. Conversely, online interaction can be equally as stimulating, but it can also make you feel like you are all alone in your coursework because of the inherent lack of physical presence.

Undisturbed Quiet Time for Absorbing Information

Physical areas for studying that help you concentrate are not always as readily available when you are learning from home, rather than on campus. Most campus-based universities have libraries and computer and research labs that can help keep you focused. Making sure you have plenty of undisturbed quiet time in which to absorb information is key.

Personal Connection with Peers and Professors


Social networking through college organizations can be limited in the online world. With networking functioning as an important element in connecting for work opportunities, it is up to you to take advantage of online alternatives in order to achieve similar results.

Sitting down with your professors for face-time conversation is not possible with virtual studies, where essential elements of non-verbal communication can also be lost. Scheduling online appointments with your teachers is extremely important to ensure that you get the right kind of feedback on your work, as well as to prevent you from being an anonymous student instead of an avid learner who understands that personal connection is one of the best ways to move forward in a learning environment.

The Importance of Accreditation

One of the most delicate areas when it comes to the pros and cons of taking online classes has to do with accreditation. Even today, many online educational facilities are not accredited, which means that your degree and qualifications may not be recognized or taken seriously by professionals such as potential employers. It also means that your credits may not be transferrable to another university if you choose to pursue your education at another college. This can become a costly mistake if you have chosen your university incorrectly, both in terms of time and money.

Staying Realistic

Sometimes an online university will present an unrealistic timeframe for completing your courses en route to a degree. Making sure that your capability to complete your educational tasks in a timely fashion is possible within the obligations you have elsewhere in your life is an essential ingredient that determines success or failure.

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To learn more about the pros and cons of online education, discuss which option best suits your learning style and lifestyle, and begin earning your degree, contact us today.

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