Online School vs. Traditional School: Which Is Best?

Mike Page's picture
Authored by Mike Page
Posted Friday, September 6, 2019 - 7:27am

Picture this: You wake up well-rested, fire up your computer, and attend courses all without changing out of your pajamas. Sounds ideal, doesn’t it? Nowadays, it’s becoming more and more difficult to choose between traditional and online schooling. From the freedom online schooling offers to its increased affordability, it can be tempting to sign up for a class as soon as possible. Keep in mind, though, that traditional schooling still has its perks, too, and can still provide plenty of benefits to prospective students. 

The case for traditional schools

For some students, making a decision can be as simple as understanding how you best learn. In many cases, students have spent most of their educational careers in traditional learning environments. They rely on face-to-face interactions, greater amounts of structure, and access to facilities like libraries and study areas. As such, the consistency offered by a traditional college environment has definite appeal. As the saying goes, if it isn’t broken, why fix it? The vast majority of universities provide this to students and, for the most part, course schedules are flexible enough to accommodate your time while still remaining regular. 

Facility access is another major benefit. University facilities are often world-class and provide students with access to vast amounts of information, learning resources, and academic research, all included in tuition costs. Compared to online colleges, access to these same materials might come at an added cost. Facility access also includes the concept of office hours which essentially serves as specialized attention from a professor or teaching assistance, and it might not be offered as frequently (or at all) by an online institution. 

Modern learning, done online

Though traditional education still has its place in the modern world, online learning is certainly giving the concept a run for its money. One place where it differs greatly is in the structural aspect. Online learning caters much more effectively to non-traditional learners or students who have a difficult time clearing large blocks of their schedules to attend courses. Indeed, many online classes are loosely structured, meaning, while a certain portion of the materials will be covered each week, the actual legwork is self-paced. Toss in the lack of a commute, the greater scheduling flexibility, and convenience, and you have a strong argument for online learning. 

On top of that, many online institutions provide wider course offerings which allow students to pursue their unique interests. So, while you still might need an in-person teacher for, say, pro surfing lessons, you should have no problem pursuing STEM courses, literature programs, or history education online. And since online courses tend to be far more affordable than traditional universities, you don’t need to commit to entire major outright and have more potential to experiment with your education. 

Getting started 

When searching for an online program, it’s important to make sure your chosen institution ticks off a couple of boxes. First, you’ll want to pursue an accredited program. This is especially important for your post-educational career prospects. You’ll want to review instructor credentials and research the reputation of the programs so you are ensuring that you’re going to get a quality online education. If you’re not sure if online learning is right for you, you can even take an online learning self-assessment to determine your suitability. 

Regardless of your chosen path, pursuing more education is never a bad idea. It can broaden your career prospects, enhance your employability, and widen your educational horizons. Both online and traditional schooling are excellent choices that fit students differently. Do your research, take an assessment, and decide which option is better for you.