Online Colleges: Benefits & Drawbacks
When considering an online college degree, student hopefuls must weigh many pros and cons. The benefits of completing coursework from anywhere at any time are sometimes diminished by a weak variety of degrees available or programs that are not accredited. Learn about the advantages as disadvantages of online degree programs.
Advantages Most students report that the best advantage of an online degree program is the freedom available. You can take classes when you want to, without worrying about forcing the class into your schedule - your class works around you. Better yet, working adults considering continuing education online can feel confident with their decision as most of the classes offered at accredited online colleges are equal to their counterpart offered at the brick and mortar 4-year university.
Because you are responsible for staying on top of your schoolwork, you can take as much time to graduate as you need. Whether you choose to graduate in one year or seven, you'll have the ability to choose the track to graduate when you want. Supplementary coursework is available for extended training that only take a short time to complete.
Another of the benefits in attending online college rather than campus is the decrease in cost of books. Online schools generally use ebooks and etexts, so you won't have to spend hundreds of dollars on textbooks you'll only be using for four weeks. Additionally, online colleges also allow you access to their online research library, making papers even easier to write.
Drawbacks The most significant drawback of online courses is the risk of enrolling at a college that is not accredited either nationally or by the state. Such certifications or diplomas will not hold up when seeking jobs or career advancement as many companies know to research an applicant's education history to confirm that their school exists and is legit. Research schools before enrolling in order to make sure you won't become a victim of fraud. Try to talk to previous students if possible in order to find the credibility of your degree.
Social students won't do well in online classes. All communication with classmates is virtual via forums, IMs and email threads. In person interaction is one sacrifice a student makes with online education programs. It is not uncommon for students enrolled in an online degree program to sometimes feel lonely as a result.
The independence of online schools can be a problem for people who can't set limits for themselves. Is your home environment a good setting for independent study? If you have a space to be quiet and by yourself, you may be a good candidate, but if you live somewhere loud and crowded, you may not be able to achieve what you need.
Financial aid can present a problem for some online college students.
Scholarships are available for students pursuing degrees at accredited online colleges, however it appears that there is not even distribution of scholarship funds between campus students and virtual students. If you would like to pursue an online degree, you can easily check with to find out if it qualifies for federal student financial aid by filling out an FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Visit fafsa.ed.gov and complete the application online and get a response in just three to five days.
Be advised that non-degree and non-accredited programs do not qualify for financial aid.