The move towards digital functionality is permeating every aspect of our lives. From shopping to banking to counseling and beyond, everything is heading online. And as technology advances, people embrace the ease, convenience, and speed of this digital lifestyle that leaves traditional methods in the dust.
But some people haven’t fully embraced the internet when it comes to all areas of life, and education is undoubtedly one of them. The question is, can you get a quality education by taking online courses, or does it simply not compare? What are the major differences, benefits, and drawbacks to these two types of academic paths anyway? We’ve put the two options side by side in 6 of the most important areas to consider when deciding on a college. Which one fared best? Let’s find out.
It’s no surprise that remote learning pulls way ahead in this category. Without all of the additional expenses such as building upkeep, electricity, and property costs, online degrees are far less expense-heavy than their brick-and-mortar counterparts. The average online degree will cost you roughly $30,000 (give or take). Meanwhile, in-person education can climb as high as $85,000 or more. When you factor in the savings on commuting, on-campus activities, and additional expenses from going to college, online is by far and wide the more affordable option.
Once again, online learning wins this category by a landslide. After all, you can’t compete with close to zero schedules, deadlines, and commitment. You can literally learn your online classes anytime, anywhere, any way you want. You can fit classes in between other aspects of your life without having to twist yourself around a pre-set curriculum and schedule. Whether that means taking classes on the couch, in your pajamas with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s, or using your lunch break at work to finish up coursework, online learning blows in-person learning clear out of the water when it comes to convenience.
Now, this is tricky because ease is subjective. On the one hand, the convenience we’ve already mentioned and the flexibility of not following a semester schedule make remote learning much easier on some people. And with rolling admissions, online should win hands down.
But on the other hand, there is something to be said for hearing a lesson directly from a person you see right in front of you, being able to ask a question or clarify a point on the spot, right as the lecturer is delivering their message. And for some people, learning material via a recorded class or even over a streamed lesson just doesn’t sink in quite as well.
What’s more, online learning requires determination and discipline. Of course, you need both those things to finish any type of college degree. But online degree programs require you to be on top of yourself, ensuring assignments are done on time, and material is absorbed rather than skimmed. Some people just don’t have the self-discipline to make it happen. For these reasons, we will give this win to the in-person studies.
Online degrees regains the upper hand with this one. When you visit a college campus, you get to see all the various buildings, activities, and campus life that’s buzzing. But once you’ve taken the tour de’ France, that’s it. There’s nothing else other than what’s contained within that campus.
Online degree programs have the limitless expanse of the world wide web. Any course, subject, or degree you could imagine is available to you thanks to remote learning programs. You aren’t limited to location, subject material, or school-specific focuses. There is no limitation. And since many schools offer rolling admissions, you don’t even have to confine yourself to a specific semester schedule. Start when you want. Take the courses you wish to. Learn the way you want.
This is a straight-up tie. There was just no way to determine a winner since both online degree programs and in-person education gives you invaluable tools for life. In person, you will gain wonderful knowledge and skills from your experienced teachers as you hone your craft. Meanwhile, learning remotely introduces you to these skills as well as essential life skills like self-discipline, time management, and schedule making. Online degree programs also force you to use technologies and programs you might not be familiar with already, giving you experience with these apps that will undoubtedly be useful later in life. Since online degree programs give you both the course-specific information as well as the added technology education, we could argue that this category should go to remote learning as well. But the interpersonal relationship skills you could possibly pick up from interacting with other people face-to-face brings it back up to a tie.
Finally, we wanted to look at the additional tools that can help you learn better and get more out of your courses. In this category, once again, online degree programs were the clear winners. Millions of dollars have been spent creating efficient tools for learning over the internet. And those tech experts have outdone themselves. From live-streaming classes that allow you to see and speak to the lecturer as class is happening in front of your eyes, to the endless library of academic material available with the click of a button, remote learning is lightyears ahead of traditional colleges.
Aside from that, you can learn at your own pace. That means you can take it as slow as you need to process the information. You can replay classes, pause, rewind, and review as often as you like. You just can’t get that kind of retention from live classes. Online degree programs also have other valuable tools like study guides, helpful learning apps, and tutorials to create the most immersive, effective learning possible.
And FYI, if you prefer to learn quickly, online degree programs are even better for you. Instead of waiting around for the rest of the class to “get it”, you can whiz through the information, completing courses quickly and without the frustration of education lag. Many online colleges even offer an accelerated degree program that allows you to finish as many classes as you want within a given period for a highly discounted rate. If this is your type of learning, you could save tremendously on your overall tuition costs by going this route.
To tally up the score, online learning is the clear winner. But as with anything in life, at the end of the day, the decision comes down to what type of person you are. If you are just unable to wrap your head around technology, need to have a teacher on top of you for accountability, or just can’t get behind the idea of learning from a class given over the computer, then remote learning is not for you. You’re better off sticking to the traditional on-campus style of education.
On the other hand, if you are already familiar with basic technologies like using a computer, logging onto a website, and sending messages via an app, then online degree programs can be an invaluable tool for you. More affordable, more flexible, and more convenient than brick-and-mortar schools, online colleges can provide you with the education and the tools you need to enhance your knowledge of your field. So get ready to expand your horizon to new industries and open up greater career opportunities for you.
Check our top choices of online degree programs and launch your career today.