As enrollment in colleges stays flat, the proportion of students choosing to study online continues to grow. Pursuing a degree in higher education has been made to be more accessible and democratic, thanks to technology and the internet, which means that the list of benefits for online school is getting longer. Here are some of the major pros and cons of online school.
Pros of Online School
Due to the nature of accessing school via a computer, online schools can be done from anywhere. Not only does this mean you can be anywhere and not fall behind on schoolwork, but it also means that regardless of the political climate where you reside, there are no geographical boundaries to access education. UoPeople was founded with this as a main tenet because the goal is to provide online, accessible and quality education to anyone, anywhere.
2. No Time Constraint:
If you have pre-existing commitments like family and work, online classes are a great option because they can be taken at any time. This means that you can set up your work and school schedule around one another, and never have to choose between the two.
For the most part, four-year American universities cost an average of nearly $60,000 per year with tuition, books, living, transportation and surrounding costs. On the other hand, online schools are less expensive than their traditional counterparts, averaging $282 per credit hour, or just about $3,400 per semester. At UoPeople, however, costs are even less because the school is the first online, accredited university of its kind, offering a tuition-free education. This means that the only fees necessary are an application fee and assessment fees per course, with most programs costing about $2,500 or less in total.
Because of the global accessibility of online schools, both the staff and student body are highly diverse. This grants students the opportunity to network with others who may have otherwise never attended college because of geographic or financial constraints.
5. Lower Barriers to Entry:
While most undergraduate and graduate programs require standardized tests results along with an application, personal essay, and sometimes even an interview, online schools rarely require so much. To exemplify, at UoPeople, students can apply with just proof of high school completion (or a Bachelor’s degree for graduate-level programs) and proof of English proficiency.
Since online schools have no physical location, you can live anywhere and even travel while you learn. While traditional universities require students to attend class and pay for the cost of living and/or transportation, online programs naturally exclude those necessities.
7. Credit Transferability:
If you’ve started and stopped studying before, online programs are generally more accepting of transfer credits so that the time, money and education you’ve spent won’t go to waste.
8. Pace Yourself:
With 24/7 access to course material, you choose to learn at your own pace. Coinciding with flexibility and accessibility, online schools put the power in your hands, quite literally. If you are not a fan of a traditional classroom environment, with nothing more than an internet connection, you can “go to class” from wherever you want, at any time of day (or night).
While the quality of education depends on each institution respectively, online schools, like UoPeople, typically have small class sizes and often prioritize peer-to-peer learning models that drives forward learning in a unique and deeply educational way.
Cons of Online School
1. No Classroom:
Since there is no physical location, there is no classroom environment or campus with extracurricular activities or sports affiliation. For some, these aspects are a driving force behind their choice for their preferred institution, but if it’s not a priority, then online schools still offer a beneficial alternative.
2. Professors’ Time:
While professors are still accessible digitally and within forums online, there are no physical office hours where you can meet your professor face to face. Although video conferencing is an option for some, it is a different set-up than the traditional environment.
When you attend a on-campus university, classes are often paced for you, in that there are designated lecture hours, discussion sections and office hours. With online school, the time management is in your court, which translates to increased responsibility on the student to get work done in a timely manner as to not fall behind.
4. Course Feasibility:
There are certain degree types where online school isn’t a feasible option. For example, if you need hands-on training like in culinary school or medical school, online school won’t be the way to go. However, for degrees that are vocationally focused without the necessity for hands-on training, online schools are great because they are highly geared towards employability.
There’s no doubt that every individual student has different needs and desires when choosing their university. For some, online school is a perfect option, and for others, it’s not the right set-up. When you’re figuring out what’s best for you, be sure to list our your career goals, major constraints, and any additional experiences you seek for your college experience. Depending on what kind of student and learner you are, online schools could be the optimal or least optimal path. But, for most who do attend, it’s a life-changing experience that teaches more useful life skills than just what the degree program is intended to provide.