Ever thought about studying an online degree? Wondering what are the pros and cons? Keep reading and I’ll tell you, what people who have already tried online study possibilities think about the pros and cons.

I have quite a lot of friends who have studied online. I was thinking that their firsthand experiences would be helpful to all of you who are considering applying to an online degree program. So, I asked them, what are the pros and cons of studying online in their opinion.

Let’s start with a couple of clarifications.

First, not all fields of study are suitable for online education, but here we talk about business related topics as always in this blog. Secondly, this post is not about individual courses. I’m covering the pros and cons of studying academic degrees (e.g. master’s degrees) online. Thirdly, not all of the examples given here apply to all online degree programs!

Online versus on-campus education

Often people worry if online courses are as well executed and interactive as on-campus education. I myself have taken on-campus courses where I have actually known more than the teacher, and I have been so bored in on-campus classes that I might have dozed off sometimes. Therefore I would have to argue that on-campus learning does not equal to exciting learning experiences. NOT trying to convince you that all online classes would be well executed and motivating -no, no, no- but simply trying to get people out this mindset that online education is by default weaker.

The worst feeling when studying online

The following will annoy some of you, but I think it needs to be said in order to improve online education. I think this is one of the biggest problems with some online programs.

It sometimes feels like teachers think they don’t need to teach on online courses. It feels as if online education is seen as something that can be produced without any extra effort. Just put the same materials on an online platform and you have a lot of new students with absolutely no extra effort. Even though, the same materials that teachers use in class don’t always work online.

I’m sorry, if that offends you, but like I said, I think this is one of the biggest problems with some online programs. Furthermore, I feel that it’s important to discuss issues that have room for improvement. How else could online education reach its full potential?

13 pros and cons of studying online

I have listed below some pros and cons of studying online. As mentioned, these are comments I got from my friends, who have studied in an online degree program. I have then commented them from my own point of view to offer you more opinions to help you decide whether studying online is right for you or not.

Pros

  1. Distance learning makes it easier for students to work -even full-time- while working.

I fully agree with this one. I earned my second degree while working full-time, and studying online absolutely made it possible.

2. Students have different possibilities to choose from since they don’t need to move to the city or even the country where the school is located. This makes it also easier for finding a job.

Again, I fully agree with this one, since I used to live in city A and work in city B while my school was in city C.

3. Students can plan their own schedules easier

Yep, I would have to agree with this one as well. However, I do understand that in some programs you are required to attend more live meetings than I was in this program.

4. You can study whenever and wherever so it is possible to travel at the same time.

Yes, this is true. I personally didn’t travel much while studying, but I know people who have written their essays in hotels.

5. No need to commute

Once more, I would have to agree. Like I mentioned above, I didn’t live in the city where my school was. Actually, I had a two-hour drive from my home to the school, so a commute would’ve been a deal breaker for me when choosing to study in that particular school.

6. Makes it easier -and in many cases even possible- for those to study who have a family to take care of

I personally didn’t have a family while studying, but I would assume online learning helps significantly people with families.

7. In case the lectures are recorded in some way, students have the opportunity to watch them over and over again, in case there is something they have hard time learning.

True. Very true. Having this possibility helps significantly, if you have difficulties following a lecture.

Cons

8. Challenges with group work

Group work can be significantly more challenging online than it is on campus. It might happen that you start a group work and someone in your group “disappears”. Not talking about crime here, but a situation where this person just simply does not reply to any of your emails, texts, phone calls, etc. This may sound odd to you, but believe me, I’ve been there more than once!

9. Some things are easier to talk through instead of writing emails or other messages

Yep. Especially, when you don’t know your classmates too well. Seeing their faces and hearing the tones in their voices help you pick up their opinions more easily.

10. The challenges with programs like Teams: if all members of a group don’t have the required technical skills to utilize these programs and don’t even have the desire to learn, it can make work excruciating.

Not all of us are IT gurus. That’s fine. What’s problematic in online education, is that not all of the students are willing to learn the basics of the programs needed in online education.

11. Isolation

Since meeting new people is in my opinion one of the biggest benefits in student life, being isolated from others is a significant drawback of distance learning.

12. A need for technological equipment and a good Internet connection (which is a requirement in most schools anyway nowadays)

Especially the need for a good Internet connection can become an obstacle for people living in rural areas. Luckily, with every passing year, this is less of a challenge for people.

Neutral

13. Distance learning requires self-discipline, taking responsibility of learning, and the ability to motivate yourself.

This came up in my “interviews”. Yet, nobody could identify it as a pro or con. Be that as it may, this is true. If you are planning on enrolling on an online degree program, be prepared to this. But then, if you are reading this, you are clearly showing interest in finding out things yourself. So, don’t worry, you’ll be fine!

So, those were the pros and cons my friends listed. As I said before, not all of the examples given here apply to all online degree programs.

I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on this! Please, comment down below, what you consider as the pros and cons of online education.

Disclaimer: I am writing from my own experience as an online learner and from my own point of view. The opinions expressed in this post are subjective.