“Start-ups like UniversityNow, a network of low-cost, online colleges, allows students to work at their own pace and pay a few hundred dollars a month for a degree.”

Dan Rather, Journalist

Pros and Cons of Online College Education

advantages and disadvantages of distance learning degrees

Distance learning degrees have become increasingly popular over the past decade.

Instead of going to college in person, you can now just study online without any need to attend courses in a physical manner.

While online college can have many advantages, there are also some issues related to this form of education.

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In this article, the pros and cons of online degrees are discussed so that you can better decide whether you want to go for such a degree or rather want to rely on classical college education instead.

Advantages of Distance Learning Degrees

  1. Online degrees are often cheaper
  2. You can save money by living at home
  3. You can save time for commuting
  4. Online degrees have become increasingly popular
  5. You can stay with your circle of friends
  6. You will be more flexible
  7. You can skip classes if you want to
  8. You can study in quiet places
  9. Online degrees allow you to get in touch with latest technologies
  10. You can study location-independent
  11. You can use your time more efficiently
  12. You can work in a day job and study after work
  13. Better access to education in general
  14. Online college degrees will become a real alternative in the future

Online degrees are often cheaper

One advantage of studying online is that it is often cheaper to get an online degree compared to classical college education.

In fact, tuition costs are often significantly lower for online degrees and you can also save lots of money on other expenses related to college.

In turn, you will not have to spend as much money on online college as on classical college education and this means that you will also not have to take on as much student loan debt.

Consequently, you will have more financial freedom later in your life since you will not have to pay back huge amounts of college debt like many other people who rely on classical college education have to do.

You can save money by living at home

By getting an online degree, you will also have the opportunity to stay at your parent’s home after finishing high school.

While you might think that this is annoying, it still gives you the opportunity to save even more money since you will not have to pay rent.

In turn, you can use this money for other things you like more or you could even save and invest it and set yourself up for a bright financial future.

It can also be quite convenient to live at your parent’s house while you are studying since you will be able to really focus on your degree without having to care about all the things that come along with doing your own household.

You can save time for commuting

Since you will not have to be present during classes in person but rather can join from your computer at home, you will also be able to save lots of time for commuting purposes.

Instead of getting stuck in traffic jams, you will be able to use this additional time for studying and this may enable you to get better grades.

Moreover, you will also be able to spend lots of money on gas or public transport.

Online degrees have become increasingly popular

While online college degrees have been really exotic constructs in the past, they have gained significant acceptance over the past decades.

In fact, our world is changing quite rapidly and chances are that the overall acceptance of those degrees will continue to increase in the future.

I think that online degrees will soon be as accepted as classical college degrees and this means that you will no longer have to justify yourself for going this education path.

You can stay with your circle of friends

Another upside to distance learning degrees is that you will also be able to stay in your circle of friends.

Instead of leaving them and going to college, you can rather stay at the place you have grown up and maintain all those connections you have made your whole life.

Good friends are important and maintaining those friendships is much easier if you are able to see your friends in person on a regular basis instead of being away for quite away for getting your college degree.

You will be more flexible

By getting online college education instead of going for a classical college degree, you will just be much more flexible in general.

You can study whenever you want and this gives you the opportunity to spend your time as you want it to be.

For instance, on nice days when the sun is shining, you can just spend your time outdoors and enjoy the good weather instead of having to sit in a lecture room.

Sure, you will still have to catch up on the stuff you have missed during the day.

Yet, you can still do this in the evening, at nighttime or in the early morning the next day.

As you can see, you will just be more flexible regarding when you want to learn.

If you are the type of person who learns best in the early morning, go for it.

If you are the type of person who learns best in the evening, go for it as well! 😉

You can skip classes if you want to

Most online degrees also allow you to skip classes.

While this might not be advisable in most cases, it still gives you additional flexibility regarding how to spend your time.

For instance, if you are really good at math, you may not have to watch those math lectures while you could still get a good degree due to your exceptional logical reasoning skills.

In such a case, watching those lectures would just be a waste of time for you and you can just use the saved time for other things that make more sense to you.

You can study in quiet places

While lecture halls can be quite crowded and noisy, you will be able to study in quiet places at your home.

Not only will this make your learning behavior more efficient, but chances are that you will also feel much more comfortable at your own place.

You can also adjust the room temperature according to your individual preferences while you might sweat or feel cold in college buildings.

Consequently, your overall learning environment will be much cozier through online college education and if you feel better while learning, chances are that you will also get much more out of those lectures and that you also get better grades on average.

Online degrees allow you to get in touch with latest technologies

Another upside to distance learning degrees is that you can also get familiar with our latest technologies.

In fact, it is pretty important to learn about those digital tools as early as possible in your life since you will urgently need them in the job market.

If you don’t have those digital skills, you will soon be left behind since many companies require extensive knowledge in this regard.

While students who aspire to a classical college degree will often not use video calls and other forms of digital learning environments, you can learn those digital skills in a playful but yet effective manner by getting an online degree.

You can study location-independent

Not only will you have the privilege to study whenever you want, but you will also be able to study from wherever you want if you enroll for an online degree.

In fact, as long as you have a working internet connection, you will be able to study from all your favorite places.

You may even be able to spend some time abroad while still study at the same time.

This can give you the opportunity to travel the world and to experience many different cultures while you can still improve your education level and your chances in the job market.

You can use your time more efficiently

Online degrees also allow you to use your time much more efficiently.

Compared to classical degrees for which you have to be present in person, you will have much more leisure since you can avoid wasting time on things that have nothing to do with learning.

For instance, if you want to get a classical college degree, you have to show up at the student office quite often and you will also have to do more administrative work.

In contrast, as an online student, you will be able to reduce the time you have to spend on those things to a minimum and can rather focus on making your learning experience as efficient as possible.

You can work in a day job and study after work

Another advantage of distance college degrees is that you will also be able to work in a day job and study before or after work.

In fact, many people out there have to make money to finance their degrees and a part-time job will often not be enough to cover all their expenses.

Thus, if you have nobody who financially supports you, you may also just have no other choice than to get an online degree.

Online degrees can also make sense for people who are just really ambitious and want to make as much money as possible while still getting the education they need for a good job afterward.

Better access to education in general

Online college degrees are also great since they just give us better access to education in general.

Even people who live in foreign countries can now join online universities to improve their knowledge and to also increase their chances on the global job market.

In turn, many of those people will now get the opportunity to escape poverty and to live a better life thanks to those educational channels in the future.

Online college degrees will become a real alternative in the future

While the system of online college degrees may not be mature yet, the time will come when those degrees will be equally valuable as classical college degrees.

It is just a matter of time until society accepts this shift.

Hence, you can expect a further increase in popularity of those digital forms of education and this means that you don’t have to fear that your online degree will be worthless.

As you can see, there are indeed many advantages of studying online.

However, it is still not all upside and we should also talk about all the issues that come along with online college education in the following chapter so that you get a better impression of what studying online really looks like and what it means for your future.

Disadvantages of Online Degrees

  1. College feeling will be missing
  2. Quality of online college degrees greatly varies
  3. Lack of acceptance of online degrees
  4. Problems in the job market
  5. You may not get in touch with many other students
  6. You may get socially isolated
  7. You may get distracted pretty easily
  8. Professors often have problems with our latest technologies
  9. You may not learn to grow up
  10. Teachers are not present in person to answer questions
  11. Problematic if you want to work abroad
  12. Lack of motivation may become an issue
  13. You may feel lost
  14. Transfer of credit points may be hard between colleges
  15. Limited number of online degrees

College feeling will be missing

One problem with distance learning degrees is that you will just miss out on the real college feeling.

In fact, college is not just a means to get education, you can also spend some of your best years in college and can have quite a lot of fun.

You can also make many really good friends and some of them will even be friends for a lifetime.

By enrolling for an online degree, you will just not get the same level of connection to other students and this is quite sad since you will lose the opportunity to form those strong bonds that could also be valuable in the job market since good connections can help you to get a foot into the door of prestigious companies.

Quality of online college degrees greatly varies

While some online education programs are decent, the quality of many other online degrees is pretty poor.

In fact, it can be pretty hard for outsiders to figure out which courses are really worth it and what online degrees are just a waste of money.

Hence, before enrolling in those programs, make sure to inform yourself properly and that you rely on prestigious colleges instead of rather shady alternatives to reduce the risk of relying on poor-quality education that will not get you anywhere in the future.

Lack of acceptance of online degrees

In our current state of the world, many people are still skeptical about technology and about the digitalization of the world.

Many smaller companies are therefore also still skeptical about online degrees and most of them still prefer people who have classical college degrees instead.

Sure, this may change in the future.

Yet, nobody can tell when online degrees will be regarded as equally valuable as classical degrees and you may therefore have a disadvantage in the job market through your online degree right now and in the near future.

Problems in the job market

In the worst case, you may also get an online degree which provides no value to companies at all and this means that you would have wasted lots of time, energy and money on something that will not provide you any value in the long run.

In fact, many young people out there still enroll for classical college degrees due to this fear of missing out on fancy job prospects.

You may not get in touch with many other students

You may also feel quite lonely by getting an online degree since you will just have that much interaction with other students. Sure, you can make video calls.

Yet, this is just not the same as seeing each other in person and it can be really frustrating in the long run to just rely on those digital communication channels and missing out on the interaction with other human beings.

You may get socially isolated

Some online students even suffer from serious social isolation.

Since you can do everything from home, some students even barely leave their homes anymore and just sit in front of their computer all day long.

In turn, some of them even suffer from serious mental issues in the long run and may also get kind of strange.

You may get distracted pretty easily

If you study at home, you may also get distracted pretty easily.

In fact, there are so many nice things you could do apart from studying at your place and you therefore need a real passion for your studies to stay on track.

Otherwise, you will just spend too much time on social media channels or playing video games.

Hence, make sure that you are the type of person who can really focus on getting things done.

If you are a person who gets distracted easily, you may just go for classical college education instead since you will have many people around you who could motivate you in difficult periods of your studies.

Professors often have problems with our latest technologies

Another disadvantage of getting an online degree is that your professors will often not be familiar with latest technologies and they will therefore often have problems with using those technologies to their full potential.

Sometimes, you may even not be able to join an online course due to technical problems and this can be really annoying, especially in case you have urgent questions that need to be answered right before an exam.

You may not learn to grow up

While online degrees can be quite convenient, there is also the problem that you may just not grow up. Instead, you may still just rely on your parents to manage your life.

While this can be advantageous for you in the short run, it will be detrimental in the long run since you will never learn to stand on your own feet.

Teachers are not present in person to answer questions

Another downside of distance learning degrees is that you will also have no teacher or professor who will be present in person.

Instead, you have to communicate with those people through video calls and quite often, you will have problems explaining things to your professors while it would just be much easier in person.

Problematic if you want to work abroad

You should also not think that companies in foreign countries will accept your online degree that easily.

Instead, many companies are quite skeptical when it comes to degrees from foreign countries and they are even more skeptical if those degrees have been taught online.

Hence, you should also not rely on an online degree in case you plan to work and live in a foreign country in the future.

Lack of motivation may become an issue

It will also be much harder to focus on your studies if you enroll in online degrees instead of going for classical college education.

If you are present in college in person, you will be surrounded by other motivated students and this gives you the motivation to really stick with it.

However, you will often not have anyone around you in online college degrees and this may lead to a state where you become tired with your degree and you may therefore quit rather soon.

You may feel lost

Online degrees also require a higher drive from students on average.

If you don’t have this drive, you may feel lost pretty soon and may not be able to stay on track.

Transfer of credit points may be hard between colleges

Online courses can also be problematic in case you want to switch to another college since many colleges will not accept this sort of courses.

In turn, you may not be able to transfer your credit points and this means that you will have to study longer than usual.

Limited number of online degrees

Last but not least, there is also still a pretty limited number of good online degrees out there.

While this number is growing, it will still take lots of time until you will have the same choice as with conventional college education.

Top 10 Online College Pros & Cons – Summary List

Online College ProsOnline College Cons
Online college is often cheaperQuality of online college is often poor
You can use your time more efficientlyMany shady offers out there
You are location-independentStill not equal to classical college education
You can study whenever you wantProblems in the job market
You can skip classesYour friends may make fun of you
Online college becomes increasingly popularStudying online may get lonely
You can stay at homeYou may feel lost
You can save money on rentTechnology may fail
You can study after workYou miss out on classical college feeling
You can study in quiet placesYou may quit your online degree quite soon

Should You Get An Online Degree?

Now that you know all the advantages and disadvantages of studying online, it is on you to make your final decision.

Make sure that you take your time since this decision can greatly influence what your future life will look like.

Sources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Online_learning_in_higher_education

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Online_degree

https://www.britannica.com/topic/distance-learning

About the author

My name is Andreas and my mission is to educate people of all ages about our environmental problems and how everyone can make a contribution to mitigate these issues.

As I went to university and got my Master’s degree in Economics, I did plenty of research in the field of Development Economics.

After finishing university, I traveled around the world. From this time on, I wanted to make a contribution to ensure a livable future for the next generations in every part of our beautiful planet.

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