The Positives and Negatives of Online Colleges

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

Online colleges are changing the way that many of us have traditionally thought of college: These schools take out much of the traditional college life that many of us think of, including the student interaction and activities, and even living arrangements. Many online schools are cheaper than other colleges, and they offer flexibility for busy teenagers, or working adults.

However, for some people, the various advantages are not enough to give up the typical college experience. For other students, online college is perfect for knocking out the initial core classes that are required at most schools, before transferring to a different school. There are many pros and cons of online colleges, and some students and parents question whether or not an online degree is as meaningful as a degree from a more traditional college. Here are some of the most important positives and negatives of online college, which you should consider.

In the past, especially when online colleges first started popping up, many students and parents worried about whether their money would be well-spent. Initially, many employers felt that online degrees were lacking and did not compare with other degrees. Although some employers still distrust online degrees (or favor traditional degrees), they are becoming more accepting of online degrees. Sometimes getting an online degree can even be seen as a plus, especially if you have also worked full-time or managed to handle many different commitments at once.

The fact that many of the more prestigious colleges, like MIT, Duke, and Stanford, have started to offer online classes, which has also helped improve the overall impression of online schools. For students who can’t take classes at these schools, they should still choose a school that is well-known and accredited.

Another potential negative for some people is that most online schools do not offer the same chance to connect with other students and teachers as a school with a campus. Some online colleges actually have campuses that students can go to, but they are often spread out. Even if an online school also has a campus, it usually won’t have the same amount of activities as a residential school, and of course, the students won’t live on campus. Many people view living on campus, and interacting with other students and faculty, as an integral aspect of going to college.

Because online college has the potential to isolate students, it also lacks the same preparation for real-world interactions and work experience. However, some of this can be answered by the student participating in internships or getting a job while taking online classes. Sitting at home on a computer won’t teach you to interact with others or succeed at a workplace, but you don’t have to avoid these interactions simply because you study online.

On the positive side, online schools are often more affordable than other schools. Of course, the price of online colleges will vary, just like other colleges do, and finding an online college that is super cheap might be a sign that the school isn’t accredited¬†or just isn’t very good. However, you will definitely avoid certain expenses, like clothes for college, driving expenses, parking expenses, and room and board.

Probably the greatest advantage to online school is the flexibility. You can complete your degree at a slower pace if you need to or even a faster one. Some online colleges accept more CLEP classes, which adds flexibility, and a potential price decrease to the overall package. You can also work on your classes from anywhere, as long as you have a computer.

Deciding whether or not online college is right for you or your child will depend on many factors. If you (or your son or daughter) are a motivated person, who can succeed without the same structure that other schools offer, online college might be right for you. On the other hand, if you crave social interaction and learn better when you can ask questions in person, online college might be the wrong choice for you.

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