There's an increasing number of paid and free online classes you can take to learn a new trade, brush up on your calculus skills, and even learn a language, but are online classes the best way to go? For some, it takes the edge off of the skyrocketing tuition costs in the US (since you can sometimes find online classes at a lower price). While for others, it's a great idea in theory but requires huge amounts of self-discipline to complete. Here, we'll take a look at the pros and cons of online learning verses the traditional college education. Which is right for you?


  1. It's applicable to the real world and the pace of business. More workers are telecommuting full-time and learning in an online environment requires the same self-discipline as working solo from home.
  2. You can learn from anywhere. You don't have to be at school to go to school, which would be exceptionally helpful during busy holiday travel seasons or any other time a last-minute trip to mom and dad's is necessary.
  3. It could lower costs for students and institutions. Online classes may translate to lots of online reading material, eliminating the need for the pricey trip to the campus bookstore (and the sore arms that go along with carrying a semester's worth of books).
  4. It could encourage more interaction. It seems counterintuitive, but an online forum can give shier students a chance to be heard, allow for easier discussion of potentially controversial subjects, and make it easier and more efficient for a student to approach a professor. Goodbye, crazy lines during office hours.
  5. A student's program can be tailored to individual needs. If you're not a morning person, a 9 a.m. class could be torture. If you have access to an online lecture 24/7, you can tune in when your brain is fully awake, meaning better performance and retention.


  1. Your living room may not be the best place to learn. Though learning at your own pace and time can seem like the optimal situation, there's something to be said for getting out of your house and into a classroom, away from distractions like the Internet, TV, and, of course, your bed.
  2. In fact, you may just never leave your room. Moving around on campus = forced interaction = a better social situation. Plus, exercise!
  3. You might miss out on meeting awesome new people. While online classes allow you to interact with others through your computer, you'll miss that oh-so-important face time with your peers.
  4. Speaking of face time, you won't get as much of it with your professor, either. All colleges are different, but many feature at least some smaller classes where your absence or lack of participation is noticed quickly by the professor. This may encourage you to work harder, show up completely prepared for class, and in-class participation.