Online college programs come with their own set of pros and cons just as a traditional college does so it is natural for students to compare them when making their selections. They are similar in a lot of ways, the curriculum and accreditation are the same, and when a physical college offers online programs, they are often overseen by the same committed faculty. However, the individual experience of each is going to be different per program and the student. One thing it is important to note is that the degree you receive from an online college will very rarely say that it was obtained online, making it virtually indiscernible from the one you would receive at a traditional brick and mortar college.
The benefits of online college are limitless. Most online programs are fully asynchronous and available entirely online, meaning that you can work on them anytime during the academic year at your pace, and they do not require any on-campus labs, lectures, or exams. That is the biggest difference between the two, because with a traditional college most of your courses and labs, as well as any exams you will be responsible for taking are going to be executed on campus at a scheduled time. They may have some supplementary coursework or other materials online, but the education you receive will be entirely at the discretion of someone else. When you pursue a degree at one of the online colleges, you are primarily in the driver’s seat of your education. The scheduling, and sometimes even the particular classes you need to take, will all be up to you. An important similarity between the two options of on-campus versus distance learning is the accreditation. The same accrediting bodies across the country accredit these schools. This ensures that the curriculum is almost entirely congruent so that the distance learner isn’t missing out on any key components they need upon which to build a solid career. It also guarantees that your degree will hold the same weight with an employer, or even if you were to choose to transfer your credits. Both traditional and online colleges have the same equal authority to confer degrees upon eligible students providing that they complete the program of their choosing. A study from the United States Department of Education regards online colleges “as good or better than traditional on-campus learning.” This means that the degree you earn is just as comprehensive and useful at an online college, and the education you’re receiving may even be better than that of a student who is studying the same thing but at a physical campus. Studying online provides you with a unique skill set, of being self-disciplined, self-motivating, and more efficient at managing your time because there isn’t a professor there to do it for you. In regards to the education you’re receiving, online colleges and on-campus colleges are going to be the same because of high standards that are applied to all institutions of higher education in the United States. However, what you learn between the two is going to be completely different, and will have a significant impact on the rest of your professional life.