Study Online or On Campus? The Pros and Cons

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Whether you’ve just graduated from high school and are looking to pursue a degree or diploma to gain employment in your desired career, in an existing career and wish to upskill by completing a short course or if you’re seeking a completely different career to the one you currently have, there are many courses offered by colleges that can now be completed on campus or online. This article examines the pros and cons of each.

On Campus Courses

The traditional teaching method of learning in a classroom environment requires students to attend lectures and complete their exams at the campus.


Group dynamic – many students are able to learn most effectively when doing so in a group environment. Learning with fellow pupils and being instructed by a teacher is the style of educating that they’re familiar with from their school days. Being with your fellow peers can help to inspire you and ensure that what you’re being taught has a greater chance of being successfully understood.

Direct access to faculty – being able to raise any concerns with your course material that you may have, with the very people who are going to be assessing you is invaluable.

Social interaction – college is supposed to be an enjoyable experience that you can look back on with fondness, rather than simply being a means to end. Choosing to study on campus is a great way to get involved with events and establish lasting friendships.


Class times are non-negotiable – the course is structured according to a rigid timetable. If you’re unable to attend any given class, then you’ll be forced to rely on your fellow classmates to provide you with the notes that they took. Although this may assist you to some extent, not being present at the lecture means that you won’t have the advantage of having learnt what was taught during the lesson; even those who are good at note taking don’t record everything that is discussed.

It’s often compulsory to attend – obviously there are exceptions to this; if you’re sick, injured or experience a death in family for instance, but students are expected to attend all classes that they’re enrolled in. Failing to do so without a valid reason, may impact your final grade.

Commute time and expenses – whether you have your own car or using public transport, commuting to and from the campus requires weekly expenditure and this burden increases depending on your distance from the campus.

Online Courses

Many courses now have the option to be completed online and this method offers a range of advantages, particularly for those who have an existing job or whose daily lives are preoccupied with other priorities.


Convenience – with online courses, you study according to your schedule, not the college’s. It’s the ultimate convenience. Furthermore, not only can you study whenever you like, but wherever you like. All course content is available to you online for the duration of the course, so you’ll never miss out on crucial information.

Liaise with faculty online – aside from email communication, online courses will typically allow you to arrange for Skype meetings with your teaching staff as well. This 1 to 1 conferencing is just as effective as face to face contact.

No commute time or expenses – your classroom is wherever your desktop, laptop or tablet is. Even if you’re miles away from the college or short course provider that provides your online course, you won’t have to spend a single cent on commute costs, nor will you have to get up at an ungodly time to get to your first class.

Affordable – as you’re not using campus facilities, online courses are generally significantly cheaper.


Can be lonely for some – if you prefer to learn in a classroom environment, then online courses probably aren’t the best option for you. However, this isn’t a drawback if you’re independent by nature and enjoy working on your own.

Internet connection problems – with most people in the developed world having access to fast and reliable internet connections, this shouldn’t be an issue. However, as online courses depend on the availability of a reliable internet connection, any disruption to your connection at any time will mean that you won’t be able to access your course material until the issue is resolved.

Requires self-commitment – the freedom that an online course provides can also be a detriment, if you’re someone who typically struggles to commit to a task in the absence of a clearly defined plan and structure.

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