How the Top Online Colleges Compare to Traditional Colleges

Online and traditional colleges are very different. Students that are interested in earning a college degree should seriously consider what type of program and school best suits their future goals and aspirations. While simply having a degree is essential to your future, finding a school that meets your needs is equally as important.

First, traditional colleges require students to attend physical classrooms on a physical college campus. This involves traveling to the schools, via car or public transit, and sitting in a desk for a certain period of time. Many students prefer to actually attend traditional schools because they are auditory learners, which means they enjoy and need to listen to professors speak on their subject areas. Other students would rather not be required to arrive at a given time and sit surrounded by many other students, which could become distracting. Conversely, online colleges are more flexible and allow students to take courses from the comfort of their own homes. They complete the required reading assignments, homework, and other projects from a home office, library, or other location of their choosing, rather than a physical classroom. Students that have a busy personal life, work full-time, or prefer to learn independently, would best be served by this type of program.

Traditional colleges and online colleges also differ in the cost of attendance. While some online programs will cost as much as a traditional school, there are also many other less expensive alternatives, plus the additional savings students will incur from earning an online degree. For instance, students will not be required to pay for transportation costs, on-campus room and board, child care, and many other additional fees traditional campuses charge for regular maintenance, athletics, and facilities usage.

Unfortunately, many students question their job prospects following graduation from an online college. It’s true that some human resource directors and hiring managers do have preconceived notions that online colleges are not “real” colleges, or that the education one receives there isn’t up to par with that of a traditional college. However, the number of students attending online schools is growing each year, and the stigma surrounding them is beginning to fade. According to the Sloan Consortium, enrollment in online colleges rose 17 percent from 2008 to 2009. Generally, traditional schools do not suffer from this kind of stigma.

Overall, the choice between attending a top online college and a traditional school is up to the students. Most importantly, the program they choose should meet their learning styles, financial situations and future career goals.

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