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Which are Right for You? Online Classes vs. Traditional Classes

Traditionally, classroom instruction is known to be teacher-centered and requires passive learning by the student, while online instruction is often student-centered and requires active learning.

According to recent research, more than 75 percent of academic leaders feel that online education is equal or superior to on-campus learning. Almost 70 percent of chief academic officers believe online learning is a critical component of long-term educational strategies. It’s no wonder why.

There are many benefits of taking classes online. Online programs make a college degree more accessible for many students — particularly those who are working full-time, who have family obligations, and/or who live far from the college campus. Online classes also give students more autonomy over their learning, and allow them to work at an individualized pace.

However, are online classes right for everyone? Today, about 1 in every 4 students claim that they learn better via online classes. This means that 3 out of 4 students still feel they perform better in a traditional classroom setting.

When weighing online classes vs. traditional classes, it is most important to consider your own unique learning style and scheduling needs. Below, we break down three of the top considerations for choosing between online classes and traditional classes on-campus.

1. Class Flexibility

One of the obvious benefits of online classes is the level of flexibility you get. You can continue working, running the household, and take classes all at once. While online students receive deadlines, there is more flexibility around what their day — they can choose when will study, complete assignments, listen to lectures, and more.

With a traditional class format, there is often a lack of flexibility. You must attend your classes in person, meaning there is usually a commute and strict scheduling involved. However, there are still flexible class options out there. If you prefer to take classes on-campus, you can find a school that will allow you to create a customized schedule that works around your needs (like Goodwin).

As noted above, taking college classes online gives students more independence and control over their education. This, in turn, requires great self-discipline and self-motivation. In an online program, you must be able to motivate yourself to complete required reading and assignments. You must hold yourself accountable for these tasks. You must know how to manage and regulate your time. While these skills are required in traditional class settings as well, your success in an online program will be dependent on your ability to self-motivate and get things done.

If you feel as though you work well independently, and can balance your schedule, online classes may be for you. However, if you struggle with keeping pace in an online curriculum, you may benefit from a more traditional setting. Keep in mind, online learning takes time to get used to! There are many strategies you can implement to ease into online classes, such as establishing a routine and setting up a dedicated workspace. Get tips for successful online studies.

Many people crave the traditional college experience, which might involve dorm rooms, smart boards, and exploring campus grounds. Some people enjoy meeting with their professors and peers in person, or learn better in a face-to-face setting. If you are a more social learner, you may benefit from a traditional classroom model. However, you may not want to dismiss your online options.

One misconception around online coursework is that it requires no interaction. In reality, your peers and professors are right at your fingertips! Online college classes often utilize collaborative resources (such as Blackboard and video conferencing tools) to encourage regular communications, discussions, and brainstorms.

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