Online classes are quickly becoming the norm for students that are going to school. For many new students this a welcoming change to how they learn, but for many others, it can be something of utter discourse. Every year more and more schools are jumping on the bandwagon of providing online course and degrees, but not everyone knows what to expect when enrolling from an online course. Many of the new student look at online schooling as a way to work on their courses when they want, how they want or that they can take as long as they want, this is far the truth. When you decide to take a degree program online you have to know what it is, exactly, that you are getting yourself into. There are many disadvantages to online schooling but there are many advantages to it as well. The ability to take complete college courses and programs online is invaluable for so many students. And while there are some disadvantages, the benefits can outweigh them. In fact, there are nearly 5.8 million people currently enrolled in online college courses, with 28% of all college students enrolling in at least one online course.
Advantages of Online Classes
1. Flexible scheduling – Most online courses can provide more flexibility than a traditional on-campus class. For most, you can do your coursework around your family life or work schedule and you can, for the most part, choose when you study as long as you are able to submit your homework by the given deadlines.
2. Faster completion – Many of the schools offer a shorter semesters. Rather than having to go to class for a full 16 weeks, it is possible to enroll in an 8-week online course and spend half the time in that subject. For many schools, a new term will begin monthly or bimonthly which gives you the ability to start school earlier, instead of waiting until the fall or spring semester.
3. Study anytime – With many of the available online classes, you have the ability to do your studying on the fly. Studies show, that being able to learn in short bursts, is actually easier and better than a long study session because it helps to promote retention and genuine understanding of the course work.
4. Login from anywhere – Online courses can allow you to do your course work form virtually anywhere. You can have the convenience of getting to study from where you want to or need to.
5. Access to more colleges – Depending on the course or program you wish to take, your local school may not be able to offer exactly what you are looking to learn. Online courses can provide a specialty program from a school thousands of miles away without the inconvenience of having to move your entire family in order for you to attend school.
6. No commute – Having to commute to class can be a colossal waste of your valuable time! It makes you susceptible to issues that are out of your control and can keep you from making it to class on time or at all.
7. Potentially lower costs – One of the top advantages that students choose an online program is to be able to save money. Over 45% say that cost is their number one priority for choosing an online program.
8. Accredited programs – In order to be accredited, a school is forced to meet certain standards of quality and guidelines for their curriculum. According to the US Department of Education, more than 85% of all schools in the US are regionally accredited, but not all of the online schools are regionally accredited.
Disadvantages of Online Classes
1. No face-to-face interaction – Online learning cannot easily replicate the human interaction that exists in a physical learning environment. When an instructor is in front of you, you are able to read the body language, gestures, volume, mannerisms, and so on. All of these help the student to easily recall and better interpret much the information that is being provided. The student is also able to engage in a natural and spontaneous conversation with classmates and the instructor which can enhance the learning experience.
2. Not all majors are available – Some of the required subjects are not available in an online format. Some fields require a hands-on training approach or the use of specialized equipment may be considered a big issue for the choice of online schooling. However you may be able to attend a hybrid or blended course which can provide online and physical educational opportunities.
3. Increased personal responsibility – You are completely on your own! There is absolutely no one that will be able to remind you when an assignment is due, which courses you need to take next, or when it is time to fill out your new financial aid application for the upcoming year.
4. Networking challenges – When you are on campus, you are surrounded by other students that are just as enthusiastic about learning as you are. You can meet with the instructors and faculty, fellow students, guest lecturers and many others. You have the ability to get involved in physical professional organizations that can connect you with more real-life professionals.
5. Requires self-direction – As an online learner, you have to be willing and able to assess your own educational direction. Which means, that must take full control over what and how you learn. You must be able to determine how your course load will affect your home life and at what pace you will be able to work and study, what your educational goals are and how to handle any setbacks that come along.
Online vs. Traditional Classes
Where you live, your family responsibilities, any full-time or part-time jobs that you hold, or what it is you are studying, you may be able to quickly come to a reasonable decision whether pursuing an online education is absolutely the right choice for you. For many, it will feel like the only reasonable option, but for others, it will seem perfectly ideal.
And for others, like a pre-med student with a heavy load of lab-intensive courses, online courses may be wholly a bad idea. Another important concept you need to be able to succeed and excel in online courses, is a good understanding of how online courses work. For students that are familiar with physical, on-campus courses, the configuration of online courses will feel completely different. Each school will have a slightly different online configuration, and so will the programs in the different fields.