Pros and Cons of Online College

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online college vs traditional college

Consider all the pros and cons of online college to determine if an online degree program is right for you. With a large number of colleges and universities around the world now offering online classes, it can be challenging to choose which path is most suitable for your lifestyle and future plans. The benefits of online college depend on multiple individual preferences as well as the career you have envisioned for yourself. Your personal list of pros and cons of online college will be your unique guide.

Isa Adney earned her Master’s degree in education completely online from the University of Illinois. She shares smart tips on YouTube for those considering getting an online degree, as well as some of the pros and cons of online college. Among her best tips are:

  • Write down your education and career priorities in order to identify and match yourself with the online college degree program and school that will help you reach your goal.
  • Talk to alumni of the colleges you are considering to get an insider’s view and opinions.
  • Consider the reputation of all schools you are considering. Be sure any online college you consider is accredited by a reputable agency.
  • Talk to employers to get their opinion of the school and degree you are considering. Ask them if they would hire you after completing your online degree.

Pros and Cons of Online College and University Programs

The Pros and Cons of Online College

The Benefits of Online College

  • Online programs give you the advantage of choice when making the decision to enroll online, as you aren’t limited in choosing a college by its location.
  • Online degree programs are extremely affordable.
  • One on one chats between students and professors are often easily arranged during difficult times of learning.
  • Learning in a new environment is refreshing and provides more opportunity for the freedom of thinking and creation.
  • Online college is a way to stay close with family, friends and relatives, allowing students to keep in touch without their parents feeling distant and worried of their well-being at all times.
Pros and Cons of Online College

The Cons of Online College

    • There is limited social interaction for students who are accustomed to making friends and socializing with their peers regularly.
    • Online college may seem “less fun” to students who find it difficult to keep up with the latest trends and lingo when compared to students who are active on physical campuses.
    • Students no longer enrolled in a traditional school who are unable to interact with other students can succumb to depression or social anxiety.
    • For some students learning in a new environment offers too many freedoms and opportunities to get off task or distracted.
    • Online learning can stifle the student’s independence by keeping them “in the nest” longer than those who attend brick and mortar colleges.

The Pros of Brick and Mortar College Universities


We can’t talk about the pros and cons of online college without mentioning the pros and cons of physical brick and mortar colleges and universities as well.

The Pros

  • Structure and discipline is one of the major benefits of brick and mortar college, especially for students who are accustomed to routine and traditional school learning.
  • Socialization. Socialization is key for normal adolescent behavior when growing up and a majority of students are still teenagers when enrolling for college.
  • Groups, discussion panels and meetups are available for students to join whether you prefer to pledge or are seeking friends who love math, science and art.
  • New roommates can make it easier to cultivate new friendships with them and people they know.
Pros and Cons of Online College

The Cons

  • Strict campus hours and in some cases, strict professors. Following all rules can often become tiresome.
  • Many students feel constricted in traditional learning environments, leading to the inability to concentrate.
  • Same repeated lessons: Most professors today require students to follow a book’s content without debates, theories and questions, which can quickly bore students.
  • Brick and mortar schools tend to not focus on individual attention with the number of students who are enrolled, leaving many feeling helpless and possibly hopeless, while in school.

Consider Your Own Way of Life

The Pros and Cons of Online College

While it is true that the college experience is not for everyone, it is important to consider what makes you happiest. Although attending a traditional university may not be right for you, there are localized schools and programs that may fit the criteria you are looking for. However, if you genuinely do not want to attend campus or another traditional school there are hundreds of online degree programs available from reputable colleges and universities that still give students the opportunity to get the degree they deserve without ever having to step foot on campus. You can start building your list of pros and cons of online college as you review potential schools.

Discuss the Pros and Cons of Online Classes With Peers

One way to have a discussion about the pros and cons of online college is to talk openly with peers and friends. Because not all individuals in high school have plans to go to college themselves, it is nice to gain another perspective from those your age. You are much more likely to find the support you need to make the decision that is right for you whether you are planning dual-enrollment or if you simply want to earn your degree online. Debating the benefits of online college with friends, sharing opinions, and openly stating the facts regarding online school is not only a way to make your own point, but can help educate your friends about what you have learned.

Consider Your Dream Career

Pros and Cons of Online College

Before you commit to any online college you should have an understanding of the field of work you want to get involved in. When you have a passion to pursue it becomes exponentially easier to find a college or university of like-minded students who also have similar interests and outlooks as you.

Create a list of dream jobs and careers and categorize them into experience you have already had in the industry, along with jobs you’d prefer having and not having in the future. Creating a list and aspirations for your future care gives you the luxury of choosing the type of business you want to go in, regardless of your own personal experience in any industry.

Keep in mind you are building your own personal list of the pros and cons of online college as you go, and eventually it will be clear to you which type of education you should pursue.

Comparing Academia and Credibility

Pros and Cons of Online College

Although traditional academia-based colleges and universities have strict rules, one of the benefits of online college is that online course instructors are often more lenient and work hard to ensure students fully comprehend class materials. There is much help for students who are lost, including study groups and private tutoring when necessary. Online schools and colleges today provide coursework that is up to traditional academic standards.

When students are adamant about pursuing their college education online it is also important for their family to listen to the pros and cons of online college in order to help make important decisions. Years ago, the thought of taking online courses was nearly inconceivable until schools such as Yale, Harvard and MIT began hosting online classes for those around the world. Helping parents understand the education students are capable of receiving while working from home is another way gain better understanding and respect. Today, most colleges provide online courses, which are ideal for those who want to further their education but do not live in the proximity of the schools.

Compare Tuition When Considering the Pros and Cons of Online College

Pros and Cons of Online College

One of the first major steps in finding the right online or local school is the ability to compare tuition costs. It is also important to review any grants, scholarships and awards you have won to help pay for your education.

Any time you are thinking of enrolling in college it is also essential to inquire about the type of loans and grants you are eligible to receive. Getting an idea of your net tuition cost is necessary with any type of school, online or traditional.

Review and Visit Schools You Have an Interest In


If you have discovered there are several colleges you are interested in, register to take a tour yourself. Going on a tour through a university or college is a way for you to compare atmospheres, learning environments and the layout and structure of the campus. Learning more about each higher education institution is a way to ensure you are making the right decision once you have decided to attend college.

Attending walk-throughs and tours on their is another way to gauge whether or not a student is likely to find happiness and satisfaction with a traditional college or university. Depending on the student, it is sometimes ideal to find a college that provides both online courses and traditional courses to help students transition into working with others and developing socially, even if they are introverted and don’t socialize much.

Read Honest Reviews of Colleges


Before you decide definitively on a college or university, be certain to read reviews and testimonials from those who have attended and graduated from the institution. Reading reviews and understanding the curriculum provided from each university is a way for you to feel more comfortable with your school choice. It will also help you maintain interest while moving forward with the traditional process of submitting applications.

Choose Your Degree Path

Pros and Cons of Online College

Choosing the right path that is ideal for you and your future does not happen overnight. It takes time and effort to create a thoughtful list of personal pros and cons of online college. Visiting college campuses, checking out local colleges and comparing online degree programs is a way for you to gain the perspective necessary to determine which option is best for you. Discussing workload with professors in addition to reviewing the curriculum, even if you want to study from home, is another way to feel more confident and at ease about the admissions process and which path of education is right for you.

Have an Open Discussion With Your Parents

Pros and Cons of Online College

Even if you do not see eye to eye with your parents it is essential that you share your own hopes, dreams and plans for your future with them. Whether you are determined to enroll in online courses or tinkering with the idea of a traditional college or university, discussing the pros and cons of online school vs. traditional colleges is another way to add a fresh perspective to those who may not be fully on board at first about your decisions. The more upfront and honest you are with your parents without being swayed by their own opinions, the easier it is to let go of attempting to please others while pursuing education and furthering your own career options.

Educate Your Parents About the Pros and Cons of Online College

Pros and Cons of Online College

Take the time to educate your parents about the pros and cons of online college degree programs and how the benefits of online college are rapidly expanding in today’s culture. Giving parents different perspectives about online education pros and cons and how times are changing and affecting the younger generation may help them to better understand your own thoughts, needs and plans. Sharing positive experiences and your excitement regarding online college is another way to help garnish the support necessary for your parents to support you and have your back when you choose the type of educational experience you find most beneficial and rewarding.

Invite Your Parents to Learn More About Online Colleges and Universities

Pros and Cons of Online College Degrees

Enlightening your parents of the vast advantages online colleges have today over traditional universities is a way to shine light on a subject that may sound strange to them. The rapid expansion of technology and the ability for real-time communication between students and professors helps keep learning experience more relevant and up to date.

Having the ability to have an honest, open and clear conversation with your parents may ultimately help you to build support and garner a better relationship.

Student Loans and Financing

Student Loans

If you are unable to pay tuition, living expenses, room and board and all of the other costs and fees associated with college, it would be wise to seek out more information regarding student aid, scholarships and grants. Rather than choosing to take out a second mortgage on your home it is now easier than ever to find money for college.

Applying for scholarships and loans is possible within Junior and Senior year of high school based on grades and extracurricular activities. Taking on an internship that is relevant to your favorite area of study is another way for you to hone your craft before pursuing it as a career.

When you have done all the research and have your list of pros and cons of online college complete, you will be able to weigh all of your options and make the best informed decisions regarding your college degree.

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