How To Assess the Advantages and Disadvantages of Distance Learning

The latest trend in higher education is turning to an online program to earn a degree. There are several advantages and disadvantages to an online degree that need to be fully considered before enrolling in one of the many available schools.

  1. Advantage: You can work at your own pace.

While there are deadlines and due dates just as at a traditional campus based school, there is simply more flexibility with an online program. You can check into your class when you have time and complete assignments around other commitments.

Disadvantage: You have to be disciplined and organized.

Being a self-starter is definitely a plus. Most of the learning will be done through readings and discussion postings on a message board. If you need interaction or more one-on-one time to succeed, you may want to stick with a traditional degree program.

  • Advantage: Online degrees today are not worthless.

    You will have to work just as hard at an online school as you would if you were going to class at a traditional school. Most of the programs advertised on the internet are fully accredited and make your degree the "real thing".

    Disadvantage: Employers do not always know this.

    Unfortunately, there is still a stigma in some careers about online degrees. Some employers recognize the name of mostly online schools and will consider you to be less qualified. This is an unfortunate, but true fact.

  • Advantage: Degree programs online are usually accelerated.

    Most online programs go year round and therefore you will get your diploma faster than you might at a traditional school. Classes typically go from 4-8 weeks, and normally you only take one class at a time. You still earn just as many semester hour credits as a traditional school, but it helps you get done faster.

    Disadvantage: Accelerated programs mean the same amount of material in a shorter amount of time.

    Those 4-8 week classes would normally last a semester or longer at a traditional school. In order to get all of the required information into that time frame, it means you will need to work and understand at a faster pace. Some students cannot keep up with this type of system. Procrastination is not possible in most cases.

  • Advantage: You can "go to class" whenever and wherever you have time.

    There are usually no scheduled times to be in class, so you can do your discussion postings and work any time of the day or night. This flexibility will allow you to keep your full time job and still be a student full time.

    Disadvantage: Your free time could diminish.

    You may find yourself spending close to 20 hours a week online to finish projects or post discussions. If you do keep a full time job, this time will come out of family time or recreation time you have now.

  • Take the time to really research this idea and see if it is the right thing for you. Assess your learning style and motivation to make sure it is compatible with online education. Traditional schools are often a better choice for people, but online degree programs can be an equally good option if they fit your style and schedule.


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