Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, more and more people are making the decision to study online. While attending class without ever leaving the comfort of your own home may seem like a very appealing choice to you, it is worth weighing up all the pros and cons before making a definite decision.
To give you a helping hand, this is exactly what we will be doing in this article. Whenever you are taking a decision as important as one about your education, it is always worth taking the time to decide which learning style will suit you best. So, let’s get started!
*Disclosure: This is a partnered post. Read our full disclosure policy.
Pro – Flexible Learning
We have already alluded to this fact, but one of the main pros of online courses is that they allow for flexible study. So, if you are in a situation in life when you need to dedicate your time to other priorities, this is the ideal option for you. After all, your ‘classroom’ can be accessed anywhere at any time.
Flexibility is a big part of modern life, and it is something that we are increasingly asking for in our workplace, so it makes sense that people want this in their education as well.
Of course, you will need to ensure that you have high levels of self-discipline so that you are able to complete all tasks within the deadlines that are set. Otherwise, you will be paying money for an education which you are not accessing.
Con – Credibility
Online courses may be perceived negatively in certain more old-fashioned sectors and employers. Of course, that is not to say that the standard of teaching is necessarily worse, but you need to consider the reputation of your course. After all, there is no point getting a qualification that doesn’t enhance your reputation and open doors for you.
Another concern which some employers have is that online courses don’t help to develop so-called ‘soft skills’ such as collaboration, teamwork, and intellectual debate. Over time as more people study online, it is likely that this reputation will change, but you just need to be prepared for some skepticism.
Make sure that you are able to justify the merits of your course in an interview situation and you may well be able to change people’s minds about online courses.
Pro – Individualized Learning
Students who take online courses can learn in a way that benefits them. Since a lot of the learning that you will be doing is independent, you will begin to understand more about the ways in which you learn best over time.
In contrast, a lot of more traditional courses tend to be more prescriptive in their teaching style so if you don’t fit into it well, you could find yourself in difficulty and not experiencing the full benefit of your learning experience. Online courses have been shown to help harness strengths and minimize weaknesses.
If you are a less social or confident person, you have less to worry about when it comes to public speaking or classmate interaction. As the internet develops, it is likely that the quality of online courses is only set to keep improving.
Con – Personal Motivation
We have already touched upon this point, but many people find it very difficult to learn or get motivated unless they are in the pressurised situation of a classroom. Physical courses provide much more of a sense to structure which some people prefer. So, you need to be an organised person who manages their time well or at least be in a situation where you can develop these skills.
You should make a schedule and stick to it as closely as you can. Otherwise, you could end up leaving everything until right at the last minute.
Making a clear distinction between your studying time and the other responsibilities in your life is also important as you could end up going too far the other way and being tempted to check your assignments and emails rather than giving yourself a chance to switch off from time to time.
Pro – A Range of Choices
When you go study at a university, college or other learning environment, you are limited to what courses they have available. Sure, you can look at other institutions, but you are restricted by distance as to which ones you can travel to.
However, since online learning provides no such limitation, you may well find that you have more options of course to study. While there are all the obvious technical courses, there are also choices like an online msn if you are looking to enhance your nursing skills.
Though there are so many options available to you, it is worth checking the reviews of the course, so you can find out more information about its credibility and reputation.
Con – Lack of Personal Attention and Interaction
One of the main disadvantages for online students is that they are not getting the same level of one-to-one interaction and attention as those who study in the ‘real world’. In traditional settings, as well as speaking to your college professors, you can also interact with your peers and classmates who may give you an entirely different view of a particular subject.
If you have a question, rather than having is answered instantly, you are likely to have to wait to get a response. How quickly you get a response very much depends on the quality of the school and the availability of the tutors. If you study online, you need to be careful that you are not pursuing an assignment in entirely the wrong way which means that you are wasting your time.
Pro – Opportunities for All Kinds of Students
If you are an older student, you may feel intimidated about joining a class where there are likely to be a lot of younger learners. Online courses make learning much more accessible to people of all ages. Similarly, if you have a disability which makes it difficult to travel and attend classes in person, these obstacles are removed by taking an online course.
So, the internet has opened up learning to people who may not have had access to it in the past. This means that you can continue studying regardless of the situation you are in. Lifelong learning is a pursuit that all of us should look to take part in.
Con – Technology Issues
If you live in an area where WiFi access is limited or you don’t have high-speed broadband, you may well find yourself struggling to complete your assignments. After all, the last thing that you need is to spend half your time struggling to solve your computer issues.
You may have to enhance your computer skills before you consider taking an online course. You may also have to invest in better technology so that you can complete your studying in the most effective way possible.
However, as WiFi access becomes increasingly available, you will find that you are able to work from an increasing number of places which may have better internet access than you have. There are also shared workspaces springing up all over the place, so you could get over the issue of a lack of interaction in this way.
Pro – More Affordable
In general, online courses tend to be more affordable than their classroom counterparts. So, if you are on a limited budget and don’t want to rack up student debt, this could well be the better option for you.
As well as this, you also don’t have to factor in things like travel and accommodation costs. And, you are much more likely to be able to continue working while taking an online course compared to a traditional one, so you can keep earning money rather than having to give up your job.
Con – Effectiveness of Assessment
Real life courses tend to be assessed in numerous different ways, but the options are much more limited when it comes to online learning. So, you may find that your progress is more difficult to measure, and your instructors are less present so they are not available to steer you back on the right track. However, depending on the type of learner that you are, this may not end up being such as big issue.
So, after you have read through this article, hopefully, you have a much better idea as to whether online study is the right option for you. As the internet continues to expand and develop, and more of us are reliant on it during our lives, it is likely that this becomes a more and more prominent option.
However, that is not to say that traditional studying options will disappear altogether. Ultimately, it is all about thinking about what sort of learner you are, as well as the life situation that you are currently in. Whatever choice you make, ensure that you take plenty of time to assess the course and the educational institution so that you choose one which furthers your life opportunities.