Online College vs Traditional College: Which option is best for you?

Online learning and college courses have skyrocketed in popularity in recent years. While they used to be looked down upon by many – and even joked about – they have caught on to the point where they are not nearly as widely stigmatized as they once were.

These days, the vast majority of online college programs are accredited. And you can easily find pretty much all of the same degree options online as you can find at traditional colleges. In fact, many traditional colleges – including the most respected and highly accredited universities now offer distance learning programs as well as their traditional on-campus classes.

With great options both online and in-person now, how can you decide which choice is the best one for you and your situation… online college vs traditional college. We’ll take a look at both here to help you decide. 

Online College

One huge advantage of online learning clearly is the incredible flexibility that it offers.

When you’re studying online, you can typically go through the course at your own pace and do the work based on your own schedule. This can be a huge advantage for adults who have to fit school work in around jobs, kids and other obligations.

And, not only can you control your schedule, but with online learning you can choose where you do your learning. As long as you have an Internet connection, you can hop online and do your coursework. You can do it at home, at the office, at a coffee shop, on the beach or anywhere else you can get online!

This also helps reduce costs since you won’t have to commute and worry about gas, parking fees, wear and tear on your car, etc. 

Most online programs are set up in a way to cater to the needs of their students. And, both full-time and part-time options are available through online learning which makes it a great choice for pretty much anyone. .

That said, online learning isn’t for everyone and there are certainly downsides to online learning.

For one, there is no in-person interaction in online learning situations. This can be a big drawback for some students.

And, related to this, there is not as much interaction in an online learning environment as there is in a classroom. For those who want to do online learning, you really have to be motivated and disciplined and have a great work ethic. There is not much supervision in online learning so you really have to be the one making sure you put in the time and do the work.

Also, some students just find they are better able to learn – pick up and retain information – better in a classroom environment. There are also courses of study such as physical therapy where having in-person, hands on training makes a big difference. 

Traditional College

As popular as online learning is, on-campus education is still the most popular option for college. There’s something about the traditional, face-to-face, instructor led, brick and mortar environment that still makes on-campus very appealing.  It’s a more personal style of learning that many appreciate.

And on-campus learning offers an environment where students can get more one-on-one attention. This provides more immediate feedback from professors and fellow classmates. There are students who will thrive much more having an in-class experience. For them, they love that there’s more interaction, feedback and attention than they would get in an online environment. 

Related to this is the opportunity for more social interaction. This is another big benefit of campus learning. There are those who would argue that what you learn in college through social interactions is as, if not more, important as what you learn from your actual coursework. 

There is no perfect option, however. And on-campus learning does have its drawbacks. For one, it doesn’t offer nearly the flexibility as online learning does. Classes meet at set days and times each week. And usually during the day, which may not work for some students.

Another big factor to consider is that on-campus degree programs generally cost way more than online degree programs. 

With all the above being said, which options is the right one for you? Online or campus?

Well, there is no perfect option or one-size-fits-all approach here. You know what your life is like and what factors are the most important to you when it comes to your education. So, based on your unique needs, choose the style of education that works best for your lifestyle. And know you’re not locked into your choice forever. If you don’t like your choice, you can always make a change.

More About Online Colleges

This article is part of our guide on how to be a successful online college student.

Check out the next topic in the series: How To Study For Online College Classes

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