Some people view online higher education as the solution to inhibiting factors such as cost and scheduling issues. Others see it as the end of socialization and the overall college experience. Pursuing your college degree online may not be the best option for everyone, but for some people, it’s the only option that makes sense. Here are some pros and cons of earning your degree through an online program to help you determine if it’s an option that works for you or not.
The program is typically cheaper
Because you aren’t attending a brick and mortar university, you don’t have to spend money on room and board, a meal plan or commuting costs. While the price of the actual program may be the same as a traditional university, most likely you’ll still come out ahead. However, most online programs tend to cost less as the university saves money on overhead costs.
Online education is an excellent option for someone whose schedule prevents them from attending a traditional university. For those who already work a full-time job and are looking to go back to school, or are a stay-at-home parent, online classes give them the freedom to choose when they will complete assignments and attend class, versus traditional universities where classes are only offered at specific times.
Improved writing and communication skills
Even if you’re not pursuing a degree focused on writing or communication, you’ll still see improvement in those areas because of how heavily online education relies on communication. Not seeing your professors or classmates in person means all of your interaction takes place through the computer. You’ll be judged based on your writing abilities, so you’ll have to be able to articulate your meaning through your writing clearly.
You need to be highly self-motivated
While some people value the freedom online education offers, others view it as the biggest downfall. Some people work best in structured environments, when they have a set time they need to meet for a class. Those who find procrastination and time management to be an issue will struggle with completing their coursework on their own accord. The more responsibilities you have in your personal life, the harder it will be to fit in schoolwork.
You lose the campus experiment
For most people, the most valuable college experiences occurred outside of the classroom. Joining clubs and extracurriculars, and spending late nights in the library cramming material for a test the next day are all experiences you will miss out on. Some people view this as a plus of online education, but others may feel that they were cheated out of a proper college experience by taking online classes. If you want a traditional college experience, online courses may not be the right fit for you.
You have little facetime with professors and classmates
While some professors hold online office hours, it still may be more challenging to engage with them. Often, professors of online courses are much more hands-off, so they may not be the perfect fit for the mentor you’re looking for. Getting extra help may be out of the question. In terms of your peers, while you’ll have chatrooms, opportunities for study groups and networking outside of class are few and far between. It’s still possible, but organizing them takes a lot more effort.
Because one type of educational model is not more effective than the other, a hybrid model is the best way to get the benefits of both online and in-person education without any of the sacrifices. In a hybrid model, students take both in-person and online courses. Often, the online courses will also have an in-person element, such as meeting in the classroom once or twice throughout the semester. This gives students the chance to make connections with their professors and classmates, but still enjoy the flexibility of online classes. Instead of having to choose which program makes the most sense for you, the hybrid model allows students greater freedom in creating their own educational program and making college work for them.