What's Best for You? | Traditional College vs. Online College

Online colleges are the wave of the future, and they certainly seem ideal!  However, it is important to understand the similarities and differences in campus programs and online programs before you commit yourself to one or the other.

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Traditional campus programs allow the student to freely interact with their instructors and with other students.  On the other hand, online students often feel isolated. At first glance, this may seem like a con to the potential online student; however, working in isolation means bunny-slipper attire and short breaks to catch up on email gossip.

Traditional campus programs require that you physically attend your daily courses, while the online student has the advantage of attending their classes in locations that are convenient for them.  While your campus cousin is fighting traffic on the interstate, the only obstacle you encounter as online student is a strategically positioned dog lying in the path of your home office.

Online students enjoy an asynchronous class model and they are able to work at their own pace, on their own schedule.  Campus students are in a synchronous model where learning occurs at specified times.  If you don’t work or play well with others, then the online option is probably ideal for you.

Online students are expected to demonstrate self-discipline to a greater extent than a campus student.  Campus students will greatly benefit from the ‘go get ‘ems’ and ‘you can do its’ reverberating from their idealistic instructors, but all you hear is the hum of your laptop.  It’s easy to lose focus and motivation as an online student.

Online students are expected to be proficient in the use of technology, whereas campus students are supplied with more traditional supplies.  The online student relies little on books and heavily on electronically delivered lessons.  Basically, would you rather page through a book or click on an arrow to get to your current lesson?  Easy accessibility to learning materials is a definite plus for the online learner.

Both campus and online programs require that a student completes assignments and meets deadlines.  Regardless of which delivery method you choose, most schools ensure that you are receiving the same quality education. An online student is comforted by the fact that they are being educated to the fullest degree and are not suffering in comparison to the campus student.

While campus students must sit in an uncomfortable chair and be droned at by instructors, online students can curl up on the couch in their pajamas and watch the latest recording of a lesson – with the option to fast forward through those boring anecdotes that only the instructor truly finds amusing!  Online students can choose instruction that works for them.

Campus students are generally younger and have chosen the campus model for reasons that extend beyond a quality education.  With clubs, organizations and athletics galore to choose from, a campus student never suffers for a social life!  The adult learner, however, has other, more pressing priorities that include a family and a career.  The online student generally chooses this option so they can continue to devote time to their already established life.

The decision to become an online learner is most definitely a personal one.  The choice will depend mostly on your current responsibilities, financial obligations and, most importantly, on your familial and social status.  Will you be spending Friday night with your kids, or would you rather attend a Frat party?  THAT could be the deciding factor!

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