Pros and Cons to Online Degrees

Why many are choosing — or aren’t choosing — online education

Going to college usedbankingon_e_a003015533 to mean packing up your belongings and heading to a university for four years to receive your continuing education. However, new opportunities have been available at a number of colleges for quite some time, and many modern-day students are taking advantage. In fact, there are currently more than four million people receiving an online education — and that number grows steadily each year.

“Online courses have a place, and they are here to stay,” says Andy Zucker, a senior researcher for Concord Consortium, a nonprofit pioneer in online education. That said, while there are many benefits to this type of education, there are also some negatives. If you’re considering receiving your degree online, be sure to weigh the pros and cons:


Cost – More often than not, the costs of taking online classes are lower than those associated with the traditional classroom. In addition, with online courses, you’re saving on expenses such as gas, parking, housing and campus food.

Also, sometimes universities request various fees such as lab or equipment usage fees, whereas an online education does not.

Convenience – “They can fit an education in when they have time for it, rather than when we decide to hold classes,” says Allen Gathman, associate dean for online learning at Southeast Missouri State University. If you’re someone who works better at 2:00 a.m. than 8:00 a.m. or you perform better after re-watching lectures, then an online education may be for you. Receiving your education online means you can do your work and review your notes whenever and wherever you please. These classes are also especially convenient if you’re working full-time or have children to tend to.

Helps shy students – “Some people are really reluctant to participate in class discussions,” says Gathman. “They won’t speak up in discussions on controversial subjects. With an online forum, they’re much more willing to write something than they would have been to say it standing up in front of people in class.” Also, Gathman says, “Forum discussions, if used well, can be much more thoughtful because students have more time to reflect and consider when they’re writing.”


Isolation – While you can still easily communicate with professors and students, getting your degree in the comfort of your home is just that — and that eliminates social interaction with others. That’s important because studies show that being involved on your college campus is important and can benefit students — and that’s simply not possible when getting your degree online. Whether it be joining clubs or just meeting students, interface with others doesn’t happen.

Too much freedom – Some argue that online courses may offer too much flexibility in that, if you don’t have good self-discipline, your work may never get done. “In terms of self-discipline, there’s no set time to show up, and when you do show up, there’s nobody feeding you the information,” says Gathman. “You have to budget your time, keep up with your work and actively participate more than in a classroom.” For many, it can be a hard transition from traditional school to doing work from your home, and that can hamper your abilities and grades.

Doesn’t accommodate the non tech-savvy – If you’re not the greatest with computers or have slow Internet connection, you may become frustrated and your studies could suffer as a result. Before signing up, be sure you’re someone who can handle such challenges and that you have back-up plans in case of a technological mishap (i.e. a close-by library, a friend or family member’s computer, etc.).

Regardless of what you choose, we can help you with the financing to help get you through it.

Used with Permission. Published by IMN Bank Adviser
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