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Pros and Cons of Online Colleges

Online Colleges

It is increasingly common for people to attend an online college in order to get a degree. You can get degrees ranging from simple certificates to advanced PhDs using credible online colleges today. However, there are pros and cons of online colleges that you consider before making the decision about whether an online school is right for you.

Benefits of Online Colleges


There can be many benefits to attending an online school instead of a traditional campus-based college. Some of the leading benefits include:


o   A flexible schedule. The number one reason that most students want to attend an online college is because it allows them to do their coursework at whatever times are most convenient. They don’t have to attend class at a specific time each day. This is great for stay-at-home moms as well as people with full-time jobs.

o   Earning money while attending school. College is expensive regardless of whether you attend class online or on a campus. Earning an income while going to school can help offset those costs. The flexibility of the online college schedule makes it much easier to work while going to school.

o   Lower cost. The cost of attending an online college may be cheaper than attending a campus-based college. This is due to the fact that you can live off campus wherever you are already living and you don’t have to pay for transportation to and from school. Note that college costs depend on a great array of factors, though, so you’ll need to research this benefit carefully to see if it’s true for you.

o   Opens up college options for people who don’t want to move. Many students live in areas where their college degree options are limited. This is especially true of people living in rural areas away from major universities. The online college makes different types of degrees more accessible.

o   Reduced anxiety. Many students have trouble in college because they are anxious about attending campus-based courses, afraid that they’ll be called on in class and socially insecure about meeting their classmates. The online college resolves these issues.

o   Unique skills are gained. Online colleges use high-tech tools such as video chatting, forum posting, interactive blogging and online collaboration tools. These skills may or may not be gained in a traditional college setting and can be highly useful in many careers today.


Drawbacks of Online Colleges


Be aware that there are drawbacks to attending an online school rather than going to a more traditional campus-based program. Some of the major drawbacks include:


o   Scholarship limitations. Getting need-based financial aid for an online school is generally as easy as getting that aid for a regular school program. However, you may find that there are more scholarship options for free money if you go to a more traditional program.

o   Missing out on the campus experience. There is something unique about the college experience. Living on campus, attending club meetings, going to class with a diverse group of people and having in-person discussions with classmates and professors are experiences that you’ll miss out on if you choose to attend an online college. You may regret this.

o   Computer skills are required. If you aren’t already knowledgeable about how to use online tools then the online school format may end up being difficult for you.

o   Social isolation. It is great that you can go to college without provoking your anxiety by taking online classes from home. However, most people do eventually need to get out into the world to put their degrees to work. Going to a campus-based school can help you overcome that anxiety and give you an edge in the working world. Attending school online may only reinforce your social fears and further isolate you as time goes on, making it more difficult than ever to go out into the working world upon graduating.

o   Easier to miss assignments and even to drop out. Some people find that it’s easier to simply stop attending an online program because of the fact that there’s less accountability. No one is expecting you to show up. If you’re not very self-disciplined about getting your online degree then you may find that it’s just too tough to finish without that requirement that you show up every day and do your work.


Hybrid Programs


When making your decision, consider the fact that there are some hybrid options that are primarily online but do offer campus-based classes as well. This option can help to balance out the pros and cons of each option.


Keith Davis is the managing editor over at and is also an experienced budget planner.