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More and more students are seeing the benefit of enrolling in online classes. As technology continues to advance and people’s schedules get even busier, online education is finding its way into the homes and lives of many people all across the country. From middle school students looking for more family time, to high school students who are looking for more flexibility in their schedules, to college students who are holding down a full-time job, online education certainly has its benefits. But is it for everyone? What are the actual pros and cons of getting an online education when compared to a traditional education? Take a look at some key factors that are important for those pursuing an education and compare side by side how a traditional education and an online education measure up against each other.
Flexibility & Scheduling
Traditional Education – A traditional educational environment requires time to travel to and from school, as well as the time spent in classes and in between classes. The consistency of a traditional education schedule can be extremely important for some students, as having too loose of a schedule can cause problems with procrastination, self-discipline, and more. Students receiving a traditional education can spend time between classes or at the end of classes working on school assignments, socializing with their friends, or getting extra help from teachers and peers.
Online Education – Students pursuing an online education are most commonly those who need more flexibility in their schedule. Maybe they have a job, sports practices, performance rehearsals, or other commitments that require their time during the weekdays, or maybe they simply wish to minimize the social part of a traditional education. Traveling may be an issue or they may simply only have time on weeknights and weekends to complete coursework. If that’s the case, an online education can be very beneficial as students are often encouraged to make their own schedules and work around their other commitments, and they are able to complete assignments online at any time.
Traditional Education – Most schools that offer a traditional education have countless activities for students to get involved in outside of class. From athletics to academic clubs to hobby clubs and more, social interaction is a huge part of attending a traditional school. Even during class time, students are often encouraged to complete group work or discuss concepts with their peers, and time between classes is often just as social. Some students prefer to minimize their social interaction throughout the day, which may lead them to prefer an online education rather than a traditional one.
Online Education – Some people jump at the chance of significantly decreasing their social interaction by completing their education online. However, while they may not be required to have much face-to-face contact with their peers, online education still requires quite a bit of peer-to-peer interaction. Discussion groups, online forums, group projects, and more are at the heart of many online education programs. Students in these settings often learn a lot about collaboration and teamwork and though much of it is virtual, they still get a good bit of social interaction in their days.
Self-Discipline & Self-Motivation
Traditional Education – Self-discipline and self-motivation are incredibly important characteristics for anyone to have, but it’s important to consider how you will learn them and how good you are at them to begin with. If you are not very motivated or disciplined, chances are that a traditional education would be a better option for you, at least for a time. Traditional educational environments will have serious accountability and strict deadlines and stringent schedules that require you to stay on top of your schoolwork. This can be extremely helpful, but it can also hinder a student from learning and mastering the necessary skills of self-motivation and self-discipline.
Online Education – If you’re looking to fine-tune your skills of self-motivation and self-discipline, an online educational environment can certainly help. You will rely on only yourself during your educational time, and you will be expected to complete assignments and prepare for tests on your own schedule and in your own way. This can be great, but it can also be challenging. If you are uncertain of your personal motivation or self-discipline abilities, getting an online education could be a very troubling experience that exposes your weaknesses and leaves you playing catch-up in your education.
Class and Program Variety
Traditional Education – Depending on where you live, traditional schools may or may not have a large variety of classes and programs available. Some larger public schools have countless courses in a variety of subjects, but other schools simply cannot offer more than the basics. If you’re looking for specific classes or a particular program at a school, be sure to explore both traditional and online educational environments before you settle on where and how you’ll attend school.
Online Education – Just like with traditional schools, online learning environments can vary with what they offer. The benefit of getting an online education is that you can select just about any online school to attend, so you can search around for the perfect one based on their course offerings. As a middle school or high school student, however, you may have trouble finding an accredited online school that will accept you as a student based upon where you live and the requirements of your state for graduation.
Traditional Education – Knowing your learning style is a very important factor in deciding which educational journey will be best for you. A traditional education will more likely cater to a variety of learning styles, especially for kinesthetic learners and social learners who may struggle more in an online environment.
Online Education – If you are extremely visual or auditory, an online education may be perfect for you. You might have to get a little creative in your learning and studying if you are a kinesthetic learner or a social learner, but most other learning styles will benefit well from an online educational environment. No matter what learning style you are and what type of educational format you choose, it will only benefit you to be aware of your personal learning style and approach school and learning accordingly.
Traditional Education – While affordability may come into play more for college students than for younger students, it is still worth noting and considering. A traditional education at a college level is certainly more expensive than an online education, but if the name of the school or the particular program you’re interested in holds that much weight, it may be worth it. For students in elementary, middle, or high school, a traditional education can vary a great deal in cost, from a free public school to a very costly private school. When you factor in transportation, meals at school, extracurriculars, and more, a traditional education can get very expensive. However, if it is better suited to your personal needs and educational goals, it will absolutely be worth it.
Online Education – As mentioned above, an online education at a college level will cost less than a traditional education, but it will still cost money, of course. However, by completing your degree online, you take away transportation costs and travel time, the cost of meals on campus, often the price of physical books, and more. For younger students, however, an online education may be an additional cost that is well above sending a child to a free public school. You need to look at the specific costs for your family and your schools of choice before making an informed decision about the affordability of a traditional versus an online education.
Blended Learning and TCI
Both traditional educations and online educations offer a great deal of benefits to the students who complete them. While one may seem better suited for certain individuals, both can offer advantages to all students. Ideally, students should participate in both traditional educational environments as well as online learning environments so that they can enjoy all the benefits that each has to offer. At TCI, we incorporate both educational environments into our curriculum programs for maximum learning and understanding in the students who go through our programs. Blended learning truly offers the best of both worlds, and with TCI’s incredible social studies and science curriculum programs, your students will enjoy countless advantages and a great deal of both personal and academic growth during their schooling years.