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By Education Team | 12 July 2021

Weighing the Benefits and Drawbacks of Online vs. Traditional Colleges

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For many people, weighing the benefits and costs of pursuing an online vs. a traditional college can be a time-consuming but important exercise in long-term career planning. Fortunately, consideration of personal needs and expectations can be a great way to reach a decision on what kind of school you’ll need to attend at achieve your goals. Here are just a few of the biggest pros and cons of online and traditional schools, and why finding the right place of study can be an extremely rewarding process.

1. Things to Consider When Choosing a School: Moving Costs

For many people, one of the greatest benefits of attending an online college lies in the ability to save enormous amounts of time and money on moving to a new area. Relocating to a different city or state can be an incredibly expensive process, and many individuals simply can’t afford to spend thousands of dollars to attend a school outside of their area. For people who don’t live in a region with a school or program that meets their needs, online colleges can truly be a great option.

2. Flexibility for Adults

Even if they have the funds to move to a new city or state, however, individuals may simply not want to move to a new location for a variety of reasons. This is particularly true for individuals who have families to support or who would like to stay with their current employer; fortunately, the coursework for online schools can be completed anywhere in the world, meaning that individuals who need to stay in their current town or city won’t have to uproot themselves to get the education they need.

3. Cost of Living

As many students find after a move to a new school, moreover, the cost of living in many cities where top colleges are found can be very high. In traditional “college towns” like Boston, Massachusetts, for example, the rent on even small apartments can easily top $2000 per month. For people who don’t want to take out huge loans simply to cover the costs of living near the college of their dreams, online colleges can provide a great education at a steep discount.

4. Face-time with Professors

Although online courses of study have many benefits, the lack of face-time with professors at nontraditional schools can be frustrating for some students. To address this problem, many schools now offer hybrid programs combining the best aspects of online and traditional courses of study. For students who want to experience both the flexibility of an online degree program and the ability to meet with professors in person, these hybrid degrees can be a great option.

5. Course Selection

At many traditional schools, course attendance often operates on a first come, first served basis. For many students, that can often mean that popular courses are difficult (and sometimes impossible) to register for. At online colleges, there tends to be no waitlist for even the most popular classes, and that can make registering to study with great professors a breeze.

6. Time Limits on Degrees

Moreover, traditional schools may impose time limits on attendees to finish their degrees, and some top schools even advise students not to work while completing a course of study. For people who need to hold down a full-time job while completing a degree, an online program can be an attractive and even necessary option.

7. Meeting New People

While hybrid programs currently offer the best of both worlds when it comes to online vs. traditional classes, some students do feel that a degree pursued solely online can be an isolating experience. Fortunately, more and more people pursuing a degree online are creating support groups and discussion forums on sites like Reddit and Discord.

Many students at online universities also arrange for periodic in-person meet-ups for students to get to know one another and discuss the challenges of their coursework. If you enjoy socializing with other students, there are certainly benefits to pursuing a traditional degree, but it’s also important to realize that pursuing an education online doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be totally on your own in your studies.

For these reasons, finding the right way to pursue your degree doesn’t have to be a difficult process. If you have the funds to cover moving costs and devote yourself full-time to your studies, traditional schools can certainly offer many benefits; if you need to work while in school or stay in a particular area for career or family reasons, online courses of study can offer many benefits and resources that traditional universities simply can’t. Whatever your needs, it can be a greatly rewarding experience in the long-term to consider the benefits and costs of pursuing different paths to your degree. Above all else, enjoy the process!