Online Vs. Traditional College: What’s right for you?

Online Vs. Traditional College: What’s right for you?

When going through the college application process, many students wonder what to major in, what college to attend and what college culture is going to be the best for them. 

Those wondering which college culture to pursue are probably considering online and traditional college options. Community colleges, four-year colleges and universities all fall under the “Traditional College” umbrella. 

Before you make a decision, think about your learning style. There are 7 learning styles and (believe it or not) most people identify with at least one:

  • Aural (Auditory-Musical): Tend to learn best when sound is used. For instance, there is music playing in the background and it helps you concentrate as well as get assignments done quicker.
  • Logical (Mathematical): Tend to learn by thinking outside the box and understanding the reason behind the concept. 
  • Physical (Kinesthetic): Learn best by getting hands-on experience.
  • Social (Interpersonal): Students with this learning style tend to participate in group activities.
  • Solitary (Intrapersonal): This learning style consists of students who prefer to sit alone and study by themselves in order to learn.
  • Verbal (Linguistic): Learn best when the material is introduced in verbal instructions or writing. 
  • Visual (Spatial): Learn best when an image or cue is used in class to help teach the curriculum. 

You might be wondering “What does my learning style has to do with the college I want to attend?” Well, the answer is simple…knowing your learning style can help determine which college environment you will be most successful in. For instance, if you are more of a visual, physical and/or social learner then you may want to consider a traditional school environment. 

On-campus you will be introduced to a stricter schedule. You will need to plan out your daily schedule and break it down to when you are in class when you will have lunch, etc. Taking classes on-campus requires a more structured way of living, basically, you have less control.

Your class hours will be scheduled by your professors. Thus requiring you to plan out how long it will take you to get to campus and walk to class between the break periods.

On-campus education also affects your pocket. 

Classes on campus tend to be more expensive than other forms of learning. This fact is due to the many factors that contribute to your way of living. This college culture comes with a lot of personal socializing from talking to your classmates to commuting. 

Attending a traditional college can be much more expensive than an online college. When attending, these expenses need to be considered:

  • Lab Fees
  • Tuition
  • Housing 
  • Meals 
  • Books 
  • Transportation
  • Personal purchases 
  • School supplies 

In a traditional college, you will need to think about all the additional expenses and traveling required to move around. Additionally, you will be required to budget for any extracurricular activities, snacks, parties (if you like to go out with your friends). 

More 1-on-1

In a traditional classroom setup, you will be able to get your questions answered right then and there. Whether you raise your hand to ask a question or ask any of your classmates, you can get the answer almost instantly. On the contrary, if you are in an online classroom setup you question and answer time frame is a bit longer. Some professors only check their emails once or twice a day so if somehow they missed your email, your questions will be answered much later than someone having face-to-face interactions in a classroom. 

Though online education is known for deepening your self-discipline and motivation skills, it can also be tricky. If you often find yourself needing the motivation to get things done then perhaps online school is not the best option for you. Online school is composed of a lot of YOLOs. Meaning, that you will need to be on top of your academics because you won’t be learning in a traditional classroom setting. 

Another thing to keep in mind is that you will need to get acquainted with technology before enrolling in an online school. This may seem like an obvious point but you would be surprised by the number of people sign up for online classes without knowing how to browse the world wide web. 

Let’s dig into the positive side of choosing online school…

Online college comes with a lot of positive factors. For starters, your coursework will be scheduled on a more organized matter. Allow me to elaborate. Most classes (regardless of whether it’s online or traditional) follow a planned-out syllabus.

More than preferred, professors in traditional college change the syllabus around due to snow days, personal agendas, holidays, etc. If you take online classes, these unstoppable circumstances tend to have little to no effect on your syllabus. Therefore, your syllabus might be more structured in an online environment than in a traditional one.

Most people who enroll in online classes tend to do so because they want to learn in an environment that has a more flexible schedule. Professionals or people with a busier schedule tend to take online classes as a part-time thing. 

Okay, now let’s talk about one (if not the most) important factor when considering a higher education: MONEY

Online school can save you a ton of money. I’m talking about possibly thousands of dollars. If you decide to pursue higher education from the comfort of your home, then you won’t need to worry about parking fees, room, and board, gas, etc. 

See the diagram below to see the major differences between online and traditional colleges.

Think very carefully about which learning environment suits you best. But remember the bigger picture, regardless of your decision: you’re opening a door full of opportunities and knowledge.