Advantages and Disadvantages of an Online Education

Comparing the Cost of an Online Education

Online learning often provides the maximum return on your education dollar. Accredited online universities allow students to obtain degrees of equal same value as campus based colleges, but offers it at a lower financial risk.

Tuition costs of online classes are often significantly lower than the tuition and fees of campus based colleges. With online classes, students can often pay course by course, month by month or in full any time during their programs.

Some online classes include online books in their tuition costs while others charge extra. At campus-based colleges, students can often expect to pay up to $1000 in books. Digital libraries are also available for online students. These libraries contain thousands of e-books, articles and databases available at a few clicks of a mouse.

Online education also save transportation, fuel costs, and and prevents the expensive cost of campus housing and costly meal plans.

Don't confuse economy and flexiblity with diluted academic quality. Degrees obtained online are challenging and provide an education equal to that of traditional institutions at a fraction of the cost.

Like all accredited institutions, online universities have access to federal financial aid programs.



For years, I wanted to get my degree. I had tried to go back to school, but transportation from the obscure little town where I lived to the two-year college almost 40 miles away. For me to get the four-year degree that I wanted required a drive of over 100 miles. That and the cost of a college education plus the fact that I had children at home gave me all the excuses I needed to put off getting that education.

Four years ago that all changed when my husband decided to try to go to school online and he talked to the university recruiter about getting started on a four-year college degree completely online. Determined that it was now or never, I too applied for the online school. My husband decided at the last minute that he wasn't doing the online class, but undaunted, I started my first class. Now, four years later, I finished my bachelor's degree completely online

Advantages of Online Learning


Online learning can accommodate different learning styles and that are not possible in face to face learning experiences.

Learning online reduces travel time and expenses of attending campus based institutions.

Some classes allow for students to work at their own pace in self-pace learning modules. If these students have difficulty, online tutors are often available to assist students over the rough patches in the learning process.

Students have the ability to study anywhere there is access to a computer and an internet connection.

When students learn online, classes are more student centered. Students have more flexibility in their choices of learning materials that meet their level of interest and knowledge.

One of the best advantages that I have found with my online education is that I can schedule my class work around work and family obligations. In October 2013 my father died and in Nov 2013 my brother died and i had to travel from Missouri to Pennsylvania to attend their funerals. Because my education was online, I was able to fit my classwork between traveling, visitation, and funerals. It wasn't easy to do, but i was able to do my classwork without interruption. I couldn't have done it if I had been in a traditional campus based college.


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Harvard University Commencement Exercises are pictured May 30, 2013 in Cambridge, Massachusetts
Harvard University Commencement Exercises are pictured May 30, 2013 in Cambridge, Massachusetts | Source

Disadvantages of Online Learning


The other day I was talking with a friend who attends a campus based higher education program and she told me that she had heard that online classes are more difficult than campus based learning. It was at that moment that I realized that online learning is not for everyone.

Online learning requires a lot of research and writing and some people are not as adept at written communication and would find it difficult to use this mode of communication effectively.

In addition, some students are not as highly motivated or have difficulty disciplining themselves to meet classroom deadlines.

More verbal and social students may feel isolated from their instructors and other students. My middle son, who attended a campus based college had taken a few online courses and hated them because he liked the social nature of the campus based experience.

Some students who do not have access to high speed internet may find it too difficult or time consuming to access online course materials. For instance, when I first started my online education, our internet connection was poor so we decided to get satellite internet. Even this wasn't optimal, but I made it work by getting online early in the morning.

Some students may not have the digital management, technical ability, or computer skills required to handle the complexity required for downloading files and keeping organized.

In addition, instructors may not always be available when students need them. Many of these instructors have other jobs and other classes that they are conducting at the same time that yours are in session.

In some areas, it may be difficult to get a reliable online connection in your home. Fortunately, most online universities have online technical support that can walk you though most online technical problems. However, if your wi-fi or internet service is less than high speed internet service, you might need to reconsider getting an online education.

Some degrees require hands-on lab work that is difficult or even impossible to simulate in an online classroom. However, most universities have programs that are hybrid programs that can include both online and on campus experiences.

Finally, some schools that charge more because they are private schools may not be considered as good as traditional schools. As will everything else, it is important to do your homework before deciding on an online school.

Is Online Education Right for You?

I discovered that an online education is a perfect fit for me. The fact that I am good at organizing my own time, working around family obligations, and not having to go outside of my home to complete my classes makes an online education a perfect fit for me. An honest evaluation of these advantages and disadvantages of your own situation will help you determine if this type of education resonates as the best choice for you.


© 2013 Donna Brown

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7 comments

billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

I'm glad it worked out for you, Donna. I've never taken an online course so it was interesting to read your accounting of it.


cygnetbrown profile image

cygnetbrown 2 years ago from Alton, Missouri Author

Thanks, Bill, I think you would do great if you took an online course.


dilipchandra12 profile image

dilipchandra12 2 years ago from India

Great hub, useful info.


srsddn profile image

srsddn 2 years ago from Chandigarh, India

cygnetbrown, online education has become quite popular in many parts of the world. I think it has all its advantages like limited financial implications, time management and so on. But it requires more commitment and you have rightly mentioned some of the disadvantages too. Subject to having certain skill, it can prove to be a better option for employed and home-bound persons. Thanks for sharing.


cygnetbrown profile image

cygnetbrown 2 years ago from Alton, Missouri Author

Thanks for the comment, dilipchandra12.

Exactly, thanks for your feedback, srsddn.


KoraleeP profile image

KoraleeP 2 years ago from Vernon British Columbia Canada

I'm sorry about the loss of your parents.

Your Hub is of course very well written, and its great how you pointed out both the pros and cons. People thinking about enrolling in an online college, can learn a lot from your Hub about whether or not it is a good fit for them.


cygnetbrown profile image

cygnetbrown 2 years ago from Alton, Missouri Author

Thanks KoraleeP for the condolences, but my mother is still alive. It was not a misprint when I wrote that it was my brother that died. It certainly was a shock.

I appreciate your other comment about the pros and cons of online learned too. I hope that the ones who really need to read it do.

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