Pros and Cons of Online Classes: Info for Students

Online classes can be a handy way to earn college credit; however, they may not be ideal for everyone. Learn more about some of the pros and cons of taking online classes. View article »

View 10 Popular Schools »

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

94% college-bound high school students
…said it was important to communicate with colleges during the search process. (Source: Noel-Levitz 2012 trend study)

Select a school or program

View More Schools
Show Me Schools
 Replay
  • 0:01 Pros and Cons Overview
  • 0:19 Pro- Flexibility
  • 0:46 Pro- Technology
  • 1:24 Con- Technology
  • 2:18 Con- Time Management
  • 2:39 Con- Student Engagement

Find the perfect school

Video Transcript

Pros and Cons Overview

There are both advantages and disadvantages to online learning. Most of these pros and cons deal with the issues of flexibility, technology, time management, and student engagement. Here are some of the pros and cons of online learning.

Pro - Flexibility

Online classes often offer convenient, 24-hour access to courses and do not depend on the proximity to the organization or school offering the course. This flexibility allows students to complete college coursework while still accommodating work and other responsibilities. In addition, it allows students to earn degrees and certificates in a wide range of subjects, even if they live in a rural area or if their local school does not offer their desired program.

Pro - Technology

Whether or not the use of technology is an advantage depends on the preferred learning style of the individual student. Some students may find that online classes fit their learning style, giving them more time to think about answering questions and allowing them the option to interact with classmates with whom they might not connect socially. Additionally, online students may perform most of their research via the Internet, rather than in a traditional library. Online learning may also be ideal for students who communicate particularly well through online mediums, which can include:

  • Email
  • Message boards
  • Chat rooms
  • Video chats
  • Social media

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Agriculture
  • Architecture
  • Biological and Biomedical Sciences
  • Business
  • Communications and Journalism
  • Computer Sciences
  • Culinary Arts and Personal Services
  • Education
  • Engineering
  • Legal
  • Liberal Arts and Humanities
  • Mechanic and Repair Technologies
  • Medical and Health Professions
  • Physical Sciences
  • Psychology
  • Transportation and Distribution
  • Visual and Performing Arts

Con - Technology

Though it's a pro for some, whether technology is considered a disadvantage also has much to do with students' preferred learning styles. Individuals who are not comfortable with web pages and software programs may not want to enroll in online courses, since they may have to deal with periodic technical problems. In addition, prospective students need to have access to particular computer software and hardware in order to participate in online programs, which can present additional expenses. Specific technology requirements vary by course and by school, but in general, students need to have a computer with the following features:

  • A recent Windows, Mac, or Linux operating system
  • High-speed internet access
  • A minimum amount of memory
  • Office software
  • Antivirus software
  • Speakers or headphones
  • Microphone
  • CD/DVD drive

Con - Time Management

Students may perceive time management as a major obstacle to completing coursework, especially since online courses require more self-monitoring, organization, and planning than coursework at a traditional university. Although some universities offer assistance with time management planning, some students simply do better with in-person reminders from teachers.

Con - Student Engagement

Student engagement is another key factor when it comes to disadvantages of online classes. Studies have shown that students have a higher chance of completing online courses if they feel fully engaged. Since everything is completed through an online interface, engagement may not stay consistent from class to class, especially if professors do not incorporate engagement strategies, or if fellow students do not engage with one another.

No matter the environment, a college education requires a firm commitment of time, money, and other resources. Students who need face-to-face interaction might need to think twice about completing their education online, while those who prefer more control over their time and resources might feel right at home in an online class.

Next: View Schools

What is your highest level of education?

Some College
Complete your degree or find the graduate program that's right for you.
High School Diploma
Explore schools that offer bachelor and associate degrees.
Still in High School
Earn your diploma or GED. Plan your undergraduate education.

Schools you may like:

Popular Schools

The listings below may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users.

  • What is your highest level of education?

    • Master of Business Administration with a General Business Specialization
    • Master of Business Administration - Entrepreneurship and Family Enterprise Concentration
    • Master of Business Administration - Finance Concentration
    • Master of Business Administration - Human Resource Management Concentration
    • Master of Business Administration - Hospitality and Casino Management Concentration
    • Master of Business Administration - International Business Concentration

    What is your highest level of education completed?

    • Master of Science in Nursing - Doctor of Nursing Practice Path, Executive Leader Specialization
    • Doctor of Nursing Practice
    • Master of Science in Nursing - Doctor of Nursing Practice Path
    • Master of Science in Legal Studies
    • MS in Psychology
    • MBA
    • Master of Public Health
    • MBA - Human Resources
    • MBA - Health Care Management
    • BS in Liberal Studies
    • BS in Business Administration
    • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Investment Career Focus Area
    • BS in Liberal Studies Leadership
    • BS in Nutrition Science
    • BSFIN in Accelerated MS Finance
    • AAS in Business Administration - Business
    • AAS in Legal Support and Services
    • AAS in Business Administration
    • AAS in Business Admin-Office Management
    • AAS in Criminal Justice
    • AAS in Accounting
    • Medical Office Administration Certificate
    • Human Services Certificates in Child and Family Services
    • Pathway to Paralegal Postbaccalaureate Certificate
    • Medical Billing and Coding Certificate
    • Family Nurse Practitioner Graduate Certificate
    • Executive Leader Graduate Certificate

    What is your highest level of education completed?

    • Master of Science in Information Systems & Technology
    • Master of Science in Marketing Analytics

    What is your highest level of education completed?

    • MA in Communication
    • Master of Liberal Arts
    • MA in Science Writing
    • MS in Applied Economics
    • MS in Geographic Information Systems
    • MS in Bioinformatics

    What is your highest level of education?

  • What is your highest level of education completed?

    • Doctor of Strategic Leadership - Healthcare Leadership
    • Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership
    • Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership - Ecclesial Leadership
    • Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership - Entrepreneurial Leadership
    • Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership - Individualized
    • Doctor of Strategic Leadership - Global Consulting
    • Master of Arts in Communication
    • Master of Arts in Communication - Political Communication
    • Master of Arts in Communication - Strategic Communication
    • Master of Arts in Government - Political Communication
    • Master of Arts in Journalism
    • Master of Arts in Law - Business
    • Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies
    • Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies - Rhetoric and Public Culture
    • Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies - Strategic Communication
    • Bachelor of Arts in English - Communication
    • Bachelor of Arts in Leadership Studies - Criminal Justice
    • Bachelor of Science in Business

    What is your highest level of education completed?

  • What is your highest level of education?

  • What is your highest level of education completed?

    • Online Master of Professional Studies in Cybersecurity Management
    • Online Master of Professional Studies in Information Technology Management

    What is your highest level of education completed?

Find your perfect school

What is your highest level of education?