Are you feeling unsure about where to begin as you think about college? There are so many different paths to take with many new opportunities awaiting you. However, all these new decisions can be quite stressful if you don’t do the necessary research ahead of time.
One decision you will have to make is whether you should take online classes or traditional, face-to-face classes. There are many pros and cons of online classes, both of which I will outline below. The good news is, there are advantages to both in-person and online education.
Advantages of Online Classes
- Flexible scheduling
- No commute
- Potentially lower costs
- Faster completion
- Online interaction with classmates
While there are also many disadvantages of online classes, lets first discuss the pros of online classes.
- Flexible Scheduling– The most obvious reason for taking online classes is the convenience of flexible scheduling. For most online classes, all assignments, tests and discussions are online, and you never actually have to meet in person. Because of this, you can easily plan your classes around work and family. About 70-80% of students work while going to school; because of this, online classes can be a great option for flexibility. In addition, with online classes you also have access to more colleges around the country because you do not need to be in the same location as the college you are virtually attending.
- No Commute– Many students spend large amounts of money on car payments, gas and public transportation to get to school. On the other hand, you may have to fork out more money to live in housing nearby campus so you can walk to class. Because of these commuter costs, another pro of online classes is that you can attend class from the comfort of your home and avoid the hassle of commuting to school.
- Potentially Lower Costs– As mentioned above, many students choose online classes because they are often cheaper than the traditional college experience. In addition, you can also save money on rent by living with family, rather than in the dorms. Thus, another pro of online classes is that they may be fiscally more advantageous for many students.
- Faster Completion– Most traditional classes are twelve-week courses. However, many of the same classes can be taken in an online version that is just eight weeks. This can allow you to take more classes quicker and finish your education in a shorter amount of time. This means getting out into the workforce and making money sooner!
- More Interaction with Classmates– At first glance, online classes may seem like an unfortunate way to avoid getting to know anyone at your school. However, many in-person classes at colleges are filled with hundreds of students where you seldom talk to your classmates, let alone your professor. A benefit of online classes is the opportunity to easily interact with peers and professors via online discussions and chats. Some courses offer live online classes so that you can join the conversation and interact in real time. If you’re sometimes shy about speaking up in front of large groups, online classes combat this because you can participate in the class discussion without hundreds of peers staring at you.
Now that we’ve looked at some of the advantages of online courses, let’s take a deeper dive into some of the cons of online courses.
Disadvantages of Online Classes
- Requires motivation
- Not all majors available
- No social interaction
- Limited networking
- Requires internet access
- Requires Motivation- In most online classes, there is not a specific time that you must log on and do your assignments, which is very different from the traditional classroom. Because of this, online classes require a lot of self-discipline and time management skills. In addition, Gen Z has the shortest attention span and is easily distracted. Because you must be on the internet for online classes, it might be easy to get distracted on social media or other sites. If you easily fall behind and lose focus without someone keeping you in check, online classes may not be for you.
- Not All Majors Available– College is extremely expensive; even more affordable online classes are an investment. Because of this, if you’re going to take the time and money to get a college degree, it should be in a field that you actually love. Unfortunately, not all majors and courses are offered in online versions.
- No Social Interaction– An online class is just that, online. If you are a social butterfly who loves chatting with classmates, you may not love the independence that comes along with online courses. This is also a benefit of the traditional classroom- you get the opportunity to make many new friends in each class.
- Limited Networking– Going along with the con of no social interaction, online classes also diminish your ability to grow your professional network. Your peers in the classroom will go on to work in professional settings around the world. Someday, those connections that you made with peers in classes could benefit your career down the road. Missed networking opportunities is yet another con of online education.
- Requires Computer Access- While online classes are usually cheaper than traditional, in-person classes, there are still a few costs to keep in mind when deciding which path is better for you. All online courses require some sort of computer access. If you decide to purchase a laptop, that is a big cost to consider with cheaper laptops running around $500. On the other hand, you could visit a public library with computer access, but this could inevitably restrict some of the flexibility and ease of online classes.
In the end, there are many pros to both traditional and online classes, but it all depends on what is most important to you. Do you prefer a flexible schedule or face-to-face interaction? If you do think that online classes are right for you, check out https://byuonline.byu.edu to see what online classes are offered at Brigham Young University.