Recently there has been an increase in the number of students taking online classes for college. According to the Sloan Consortium study group over 6.1 million students were taking at least one online course during the fall 2010 term, an increase of 560,000 students over the previous year. This finding tells us that the popularity of online colleges and universities has skyrocketed due to bad economic times.
The rise in online education vs. traditional classroom learning can be accredited to the numerous positive qualities (pros) that online education offers. It is also important to note that online education is not without some drawbacks (cons). Below is an outline of some important pros and cons to take into account when deciding to take online classes for college.
Pros of Taking Online Classes for College
The top 4 pros for achieving an online education through accredited online degree programs are as follows:
Number one is location. Nothing can be more convenient than being able to take a class in the comfort of your own home. With no commuting expenses and everything you need at home, one can save a bundle. The money saved from gas, food and shelter can be put to better use…. such as paying for tuition.
The second is pacing. Online classes can be done at your own pace. For example, at The University of Phoenix, an online class can be completed in five weeks whereas at Penn Foster College, a class can be completed in approximately eight weeks. A flexible schedule makes this type of education very flexible for people who work.
The third pro is the availability of subject. Gone are the days when you choose a college only to later find out a specific subject is not offered. Now, one can choose from dozens of schools with hundreds of curricula.
The fourth pro is acceptance. Today, online degrees and certificates are accepted as readily as traditional degrees and certificates. One does not have to worry about an online education losing value once in the work place.
Cons of College Classes Online
Unfortunately, there are just as many cons for taking online classes for college vs. taking classes for college in the traditional classroom. The silver lining to these cons is the fact that some can be avoided.
The first con is motivation. Unfortunately, some students are not self-motivated and fail to get work done on time. Without the constant support and encouragement from traditional classroom teaching, one may find themselves failing out of an online class. Online teachers do not have the time or means to support online students the way they do in a traditional classroom, which brings me to my second con.
Lack of Instructor Feedback
Just like the old saying goes, “Out of sight, out of mind”, it is difficult to get questions and queries answered when many instructors are already burdened with campus classes, lectures and grading of their in-classroom students.
The third con is isolation. Because online students spend most of their time on their personal computers, many students lack the benefits of classmate support and interpersonal relationships essential to learning.
The fourth con is technology. With the growth and changes in technology, it is difficult to keep up-to-date on the newest programs and software supporting some of these online college courses. One does not only have to deal with the learning curve of a new set of technological expectations, but also the learning curve of the instructor and class itself. It is also not uncommon for work submissions to be lost or deleted from school’s main servers.
It seems there are advantages and disadvantages to all types of learning. The important question is what type of environment will you excel in? In an era when time, money and happiness are of the essence, it makes sense that accredited online schools have gained considerable popularity. So, if you are in the market for advancing your career through education, consider the pros and cons of online classes for college.