“Online learning can be more than lectures. Another element involves presenting information in an interactive form, which can be used to find out what a student knows and doesn’t know” – Bill gates
Nowadays, the options to get a degree are growing. Online degrees are becoming more and more popular among students with increasingly busy lives. That’s not to say that on-campus degrees are becoming the minority to online degrees, but students are choosing the alternative. This post talks about some pros and cons of both the options.
There’s certainly a draw to online classes that make them a more appealing option to some students, and we’re not talking about how you can look up whatever you want on your computer to get the answers. No, there’s a certain freedom of learning you have that draws you to it, ultimately, making the class very effective.
There are advantages that come along with traditional degrees as well, like having the professor right in front of you to help. Having other students just a few steps away from you makes solving problems and understanding things easier.
Both ways offer some sort of positive and negative, it’s just deciding which one will be more effective for you.
Advantages of online degree
- Freedom: There’s something about sitting at a coffee shop in September while going over a class’s lecture notes that is very freeing. You’re not bottled up in some auditorium, scrambling to take down all the important points of the lecture because the professor doesn’t post them. This gives you something extremely valuable. It gives you flexibility. That flexibility gives you the ability to learn at your own pace. You’re not constrained to the speed of the class, which occasionally the biggest barrier students’ face. Sometimes all a student needs to excel is to slow down the curriculum a little bit, and hey, that cute barista you were chatting with is just an added bonus.
- Dialling the anxiety down a notch: There’s an epidemic at universities across the country that many people don’t recognize…it’s called test anxiety. Recent studies suggest it affects up to 40% of students. Some people say it isn’t real, some people swear every bad test grade they get is caused by it. Either way, no one can deny that tests are stressful. The great thing about an online class is that you feel comfortable wherever you are. Here’s the thing, your couch is not intimidating in any sort of way, even when you are doing a test on it. Being in a non-intimidating environment helps you think more fluidly, and before you know it, that test anxiety is a thing of the past.
- Climbing the ladder: Finally, a strong benefit of an online degree is that it can be coupled with a career. Since most schools offer a program that can be finished at your own pace, there’s no problem with doing 2 classes at a time. Imagine this, you get home from work, maybe head to the gym, eat some dinner, and then get an hour of class time in. Some may prefer to bust out the degree in 3 and a half years at a traditional university, and there’s something to be said about finishing in a small timeline. However, That’s not applicable in everyone’s case, though, so having an option where a degree can be earned throughout the years, coupled with a degree, is a valued asset. (related – Pick a College and subject with Future Career in Mind)
- Extra!: Just a little bonus from the previous point, no one can argue with having a career and getting paid while going to school…just saying.
- Additional Options: In many cases, online programs have a variety of specializations or concentrations from which to choose. This allows you to earn additional certifications while taking your courses that you simply would not have access to while taking a program on-campus. These concentrations are not an option on-campus because universities would have to worry about filling more classes. With online courses, however, it does not matter how many students enroll because the course material is presented in a different format. These specializations allow you to shift your focus to certifications that will help with your career, allowing you to make the most out of your online education.
Advantages of Traditional Degree
- Just Ask!: For all that is argued for the freedom of an online degree, nothing can replace the professor standing in the front of the class, just waiting for a student to ask a question. Most professors are there to see you succeed (although we’ve all had one that we swear wants to watch every student’s GPA burn.) When you’re in class, diligently taking notes, and suddenly you get sidetracked on your computer by that super interesting article about Brad Pitt, it’s nice to be able to raise your hand and ask what’s going on.
- Socializing: One major benefit of going the traditional route is the factor of meeting a lot of people. We’re not talking about interacting so you can find where the next party is tomorrow night, although that’s not all that terrible. We’re talking about networking amongst your peers. Everyone in that school is shooting for a successful career and it would be in your benefit to get to know them. You never know where other students will end up, and 5-10 years down the road when you’re trying to get your dream job, it might come in handy to have a connection.
- Not Getting Distracted (aka oh hey, have you seen this YouTube video?): There are about 100 new videos a week that make it decently big on YouTube That may seem irrelevant to getting a traditional degree, but stay with me. When you’re sitting in that quiet library, with everyone around you studying, the last thing you want to do is bust up laughing at the latest viral video. This keeps you on track and focused, compared to sitting on your couch and being able to go into that relaxed mode in a split second.
Conclusion – As per the data and fact contained in this Washington Post article, government reform for online education is ongoing and various state governments have already had their laws in place for regulating online educational institutions. Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen estimates, in a book called “disruptive class”, that half of all courses in the United States will be consumed over the Internet by 2019.
Obtaining a degree is becoming more and more within everybody’s reach. With online learning comes with a greater freedom to learn how you want, it also has the danger of getting off-track. Traditional degrees offer a more rigorous way to learn that could be beneficial. It comes down to what kind of learner you are.
Provided online colleges are strictly regulated and have enough competition within, we may see drastic quality improvements in online learning space.Only a few people have a clear picture of what online education really is, that is why most people are reluctant to consider online education route.
Readers, where you want to see your kids go? Even for your continuing education, which mode of getting a degree you’ll prefer? An online degree or getting it from a brick and mortar establishment?
For me, it depends on which one has the most value. Schools that are strictly online don’t usually have the best reputation. However, there are ones out there that ARE good.
[email protected]&More says
Online classes were really hit or miss for me. If the professor has experience teaching online they can be great classes but if it is a traditional classroom professor being forced to teach online it can be a disaster.
Karyn S says
I went to a traditional school, but I’ll tell you that when it comes to studying in the library and watching that vid, there’s headphones and people possibly next to you are watching the same video as well.
My Multiple Incomes says
I agree with Lance, traditional classroom professors usually do not make the best online teacher. if I have to choose between online and traditional, I will still go for the traditional if the situation permits, there are less distractions in class and you get to meet new people which makes it more interesting.
[email protected] says
Great insight, especially about being distracted. Great post.
Greg @ ThriftGenuity.com says
I think it depends on the degree that you are trying to obtain. For example, most would say that a major part of the advantage to getting an MBA is networking. It is much easier to network and work on team projects in a face to face setting.
I would think something like coding, may be a little more conducive to an online setting.
KK @ Student Debt Survivor says
I need to take a couple of classes towards a licensing requirement I’m working on. I’m considering taking them online. I’m not sure I’d take a whole program online, but a few classes seems to make sense, for me at least.
Connor Harley says
I guess for older ones, online school would best fit especially it is not just school that is focused. But for the younger ones, the traditional one is still the best.