When I was considering going to college online, I had no idea what the process of college was. My mom went to college in Germany and my dad furthered his education through the military, so the process of applying for financial aid, applying to attend college, and actually going were a big mystery to me.
Many people ask me if I thought I missed out on the experience of attending college because I went online and not on campus. I generally tell them that I wasn’t there for the experience; I was there to learn without wasting a bunch of time and gas to drive an hour each way.
Online classes give people like me the option of furthering their education even if the situation isn’t perfect. I have 3 kids, so there was no way I would want to go on campus simply for their sake. Plus, I’d been partially home-schooled in high school, which had given me a taste of the independent student life. I always had a tendency to finish the work I needed to more quickly than others.
So let’s go over some of the pros and cons of attending college online. For people with children, attending online is especially convenient – for those who don’t have children, going on campus migt provide a more solid education.
- Convenience. Attending school online means you can simply go to your computer and read, participate, and do the work you’re assigned.
- Saves time. Commuting isn’t fun for most of us, especially if the commute is a longer one. I once had a job that required a commute of 1.5 – 3 hours each way depending on traffic… after 7 months, I was completely burned out. This also made me severely anti-commuting since then, even though I used to love to drive.
- Saves money. Instead of spending a ton of money on gas, you can save a trip and just pay for internet, which most people already have. The internet is an amazing tool for just about everyone, and makes attending school online a reality.
- You don’t get the full college experience. Some people learn better in a classroom environment, speaking with people face-to-face. If you’re that kind of person, then online college might not be the right choice for you.
- Lack of social interaction. The age-old protest of why home-schooling is inferior to public school is that you don’t get the social interaction that you normally would.
- Communicating with your instructor takes a back seat to self-help. Because your instructor isn’t right in front of you, sometimes getting an answer to your question is a little more of a drawn-out process than just asking and getting an answer. Many times, though, online instructors will have a discussion forum or system in place that allows for easy access and answers to questions.
The biggest bonus of going to college online for me personally was being able to develop my web skills. I now have an understanding of the internet that not too many people do, can literally find everything I could ever need online, and love those results for myself.
You begin to learn about the ins and outs of the internet, web search tools, search engine optimization, and many other aspects of online activity. You can find everything from scholarships to recipes online, and even specialized terms for a specific field of study and its meaning.
Attending college online does require a little bit more self-discipline than attending on campus. It’s more difficult to slack off because you’re graded on results, not on attendance – or at least not as strictly. You may have to log in once a day for a specific number of days out of the week, but even that is fairly easy to pull off. You can divide your work into that amount of days and go from there.
What do you think? Have you attended college on campus? How did you like it? Have you attended college online? How did you like that?