Online Vs. Traditional: Which is the Better Platform?

By Stefanie Schmude on April 18, 2016

Photo from Pixabay

Picture this. Two friends go out to eat for lunch; friend number one discusses the hard work of being a college student and juggling class schedules with work. Friend two discusses the same struggles, but whether or not they are going to attend their American Literature class on the couch or in bed.

With the rising popularity of online courses, students are starting to think about not only where they want to go, what they want to do career wise, but how they are going to receive that education: online or traditional.

Personally, I have done schooling in both mediums and I don’t find either one to be better than the other. I prefer one to the other because one option (online) works best for me. But there are pros and cons to each one, and to look at those, I took the Rasmussen College model, which broke it down into four simple categories.

1. Flexibility

This is where online platforms excel. With the online platform, students are able to schedule time to work on coursework around their personal lives. Have to work in the afternoon? Not a problem, just work on homework in the morning. Got to run some errands in the morning? Schedule time in the afternoon or evening to work on coursework. This makes getting jobs easier, because then employers do not have to work around class schedules. If you are someone who needs a steady job schedule, or have a family to work around, online could work for you.

Whereas with traditional schooling, signing up for classes that don’t overlap, having enough passing time in between and still allowing time for a steady job schedule is not an easy task. Traditional schooling also requires physical attendance. In order to get participation points in many colleges, just showing up to class everyday is what could save you in some cases; miss too many and you’ll fail the course. If you are someone who needs that structure in his or her daily life, traditional schooling could work for you.

2. Discipline

Online teaches the student great self-motivation. Yes, you need to be motivated to go to a physical class and do the work for it, but it’s much easier to just “forget” about school when you’re an online student. The luxury of choosing when you can do coursework can come back to bite you in the butt if you are not self-motivated and push yourself to do the work. If you are one that is highly self-motivated and organized, online could work for you.

Traditional school provides you with a great sense of structure, discipline from your professors and set-in-stone deadlines. Here, your professors lay down the rules, set your deadlines and guide you to be successful. Although online professors do set deadlines and rules, you don’t get the face-to-face authoritative presence that some need. If you need someone to tell you rules and deadlines and organize your course for you, traditional would work best.

3. Social Interaction

This is where online falls flat. Even though there are online discussion boards where classmates can communicate to each other, you do not get that face-to-face interaction unless you plan to meet up with some classmates outside of the Internet. But, communication with professors is not as hard as some would think, online professors are available (depending on the professor and school) for video chats, phone calls as well as email to help their students succeed in their course. If you can handle not being able to have the in-person interaction, online could work for you.

Traditional school is known for social interaction. When attending college on-campus, you are able to meet new people face-to-face, go to clubs and events as well as meet with professors to go over assignments and topics that you are struggling with. One of the main components to “college life” is the social aspect of it all, so if you are someone who needs that face-to-face communication with peers and professors, traditional is the way to go.

4. The Blended Education

If at this point you are still unsure as to what platform you wish to proceed with in your higher educational endeavor, Rasmussen College suggests that a blended education model is best for you. The blended model is just as it sounds, it combines both the flexibility and convenience of the online schedule but gives the student the face-to-face interaction of attending a traditional class.

Ultimately the decision is yours. If you are more self-motivated, need a flexible schedule and are able to work at your own pace, online could be the best option for you. But, if you crave social interaction, need structure and someone setting deadlines for you, go with traditional. But, if you are still unsure as to which way to go, contact your student advisor and ask if a blended model is available for you. Trying out both platforms could help sway your decision.

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