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The Pros and Cons of Online College 
 
by Sonya August 08, 2005

Are you considering taking online classes to earn your college degree? Distance learning is an excellent way to fit higher education in to busy modern lifestyles… but do you have what it takes to attend a virtual classroom? Learn about the advantages and disadvantages to online degrees.

Is distance learning right for you?

These days you practically have to have a college degree in order to make a decent living. But for those already in the workforce, parents who have small children at home, or even high school graduates who aren’t financially able to leave the nest, there is a new alternative to the ol’ college campus: online learning.

Many universities have developed degree programs students can enroll and participate in entirely through the internet, without having to set foot in a classroom. Some schools even exist solely in cyberspace. But as with any learning situation, there are advantages and drawbacks to undertaking an electronic course of study. How do you know whether distance learning is the best choice for you? Read on to find out what’s hot and what’s not about online colleges.

The Pros

1. You get to stay home. This is a major selling point for distance learning. “Attend class in your pajamas!” “Study from the comfort of your own home!” It goes without saying that not having to drive to campus, fight for a parking spot, wade through a sea of students, rush from class to class, choke down cafeteria food (who wants to eat like a high schooler again?) and take a chance on showing up on time only to discover your professor didn’t, is a big bonus. For parents, online schooling can be a godsend. No scrambling for a sitter or paying outrageous daycare prices. And the pajama thing is nice, too. Your classmates won’t care if you show up naked (though this practice is not recommended, especially if anyone else lives with you).

2. Learn at your own pace. Sure, you have to turn your assignments in on time. But distance learning classrooms are not nearly as strict as traditional colleges, and the professors will often give you more leeway in meeting due dates. They understand most online students need more flexibility, or they wouldn’t be online students. And no more stammering through answers you’re not sure of when the teacher calls on you; with distance learning, you get to ask the questions. Course scheduling is flexible too. You can take as many or as few classes as you want; skip a semester; withdraw and re-enroll if you find yourself unable to devote as much time to a particular class as you’d like. With no set class times, you don’t have to worry about being late or missing out on instruction. It’s always there for you to access when you can.

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