The Pros and Cons of Online and In-Person Degree Programs


When it comes to a college education, today’s students have far more choices than what was on offer just a few years ago. A traditional college environment provides classes on a regular schedule, with professors providing the curriculum and instruction. Today’s college experience can still be the traditional route or something new altogether. Online and distance learning courses are growing in popularity among college students as the learning experience is different and can cater to a busy work or family life. When it comes to online and in-person degree programs, both work well to provide a career path, but which learning option will work best for your situation? Looking at the pros and cons of each type will help you to decide if you are better suited to go the online route or stick to the more traditional learning experience. Here are a few of the aspects of these programs you need to keep in mind when you are making your decision.


There are three key areas that can impact the college experience. The first is flexibility. When enrolling in a college degree program, you must first determine the amount of time you have to devote to school work. Will you be a full time or part-time student? Do you work full time or part-time? Will your employer be willing to work around your school schedule?

One of the benefits of online degree programs is that you can complete work and tests anytime you like, and you have more flexibility then you do with in-person classes. You can log online after work, either in the early morning hours or in the late evenings. You do not have to be in a classroom at a set time. Online degree programs are more flexible for older students who have families or work, as well as fo younger students who want to be able to work while they attend college.

Online courses will follow a format and will have deadlines, but you will not have to be online at a specific time, allowing you to work on homework or tests when you can. Traditional classrooms have set times and dates when you are to meet, so if you do not have the flexibility in your work or family schedule, then going to a brick-and-mortar school may not work for you.


The amount of discipline you possess is a big determining factor when comparing online and in-person education. If you have a strong level of self-discipline, then you should do well with online classes. When it comes to online learning, you have to be motivated to log online, finish assignments on time as well as take tests before the assigned deadline. You have to take the initiative, learn the material and work on homework on your own time.

For those who are not self-disciplined, it is better to go with an on-site experience. You are more likely to do better by having a class to attend at a certain time. When you do not have to be at class and have the option to log online whenever you like, then you may be less inclined to finish the work on time or put work off to the last minute. Having face-to-face time with other students and the professor in an on-campus setting may work better to assist you in turning work in on time as well as studying and doing well in school.

Social Aspects

Another area to consider is social interaction. Going to college can be a social experience, but you might not be focused on the social side of school. Do you need to interact with others to stay on task and to focus more on the material? Do you achieve more when working with others or are you more independent? Depending on your need for social interaction, you may do better online or on campus. With online education, you will interact with other students and the professor online but contact will be limited. If you consider yourself a social learner and you enjoy asking questions after lectures, then you will do better to attend classes on campus rather than online.

For some students, it can be motivating to interact with the teacher on a regular basis. It is easier to become more interested in the content of a class if you like the professor or enjoy their lectures. When you take online classes, the recorded lectures may be boring and you may have trouble concentrating, even falling asleep while at home.

Blended Learning

Today’s colleges and universities offer a mix of online and in-person classes so you can experience both options if you so choose. You can take in-person classes in courses that may be more difficult for you to complete or when you need help from the instructor, such as with math or english. You can then choose other classes to take online that might be easier, such as electives, to see if you can handle online studies. Trying a mix of both can give you a unique college experience and help you to determine which learning model you succeed in.