Online vs. On-Campus: Deciding How to Attend College

Online vs. On-Campus: Deciding How to Attend College

Online vs. On-Campus: Deciding How to Attend College banner

You’ve made the decision to continue your education with a master’s or doctorate degree — now, you’re asking, “How do I attend? Should I choose an online or on-campus program?” It’s important to understand and weigh the pros and cons of each option to fit your individual needs and lifestyle. To help you make an educated and well-informed decision on how to pursue your degree, we’ll review the benefits of each delivery method.

Benefits of Earning Your Degree Online

More and more students are turning to online classes to complete their degrees. Some advantages are clear — reduced or eliminated commute time and accessing your course lectures at a time that fits your schedule. However, there are many other benefits, too. Some online programs are less expensive than in-person classes — not only financially, but also accounting for time-cost with a commute. A few of the major benefits of online learning include:

1. Scheduling Flexibility

Online students have the flexibility to attend most of their classes at their convenience to fit their schedule, whether that’s at 9:00 a.m. or at 2:00 a.m. Depending on the institution and the program, you may encounter only a few courses or seminars that require you to attend at a set time. This flexibility is invaluable for many students — after all, life gets busy. Many juggle work responsibilities, family and home life, and other obligations. The flexibility of attending courses online at a time that works for your schedule may be the largest benefit and deciding factor when you consider how to earn your degree.

2. Study anytime

Just like attending classes, when you go to college online, you can study anytime it’s convenient for you. Your coursework and class recordings are available to you online to revisit at a time that works for you. You aren’t tied to set study hall or library hours — unless you create and block time to visit your local library to fit your study needs.

3. Save time and money

Another major benefit to online education? You can save time and some money. With online learning, you avoid the commute to and from a college campus. This not only saves you time, but also saves you money in gasoline and parking, as well as potential room-and-board costs for different programs. In addition, you don’t have to stay in one place with online learning. You can attend your online classes from any location with an internet connection.

4. Accessibility

Online programs provide a great deal of flexibility to students, as well as accessibility. Some may not have access or have limited access, to a vehicle or transportation, and others may have physical limitations to arrive on campus. By reducing or eliminating time and financial costs associated with transportation to campus for in-person classes, earning a college degree online improves accessibility to others.

Benefits of Earning Your Degree in Person

As compelling as the case for online classes can be, sometimes it’s more beneficial to a student to physically sit in classrooms, rather than viewing seminars and lectures online. Benefits of earning your degree in-person include:

1. Face-to-Face Collaboration

The shared exchanges among students are a time-honored part of a college education. You may see other students in the hall and exchange conversations about life or about your courses before class begins. With asynchronous online courses, students are viewing lectures and contributing to discussions at different times — it may be challenging, but not impossible, to engage with others as you would in-person throughout campus.

2. Less Potential for Distraction

When you choose to earn your degree online, you must be disciplined to listen actively to your courses, study your course content, and complete your coursework without distraction. Think about the distractions in your home — your phone may ring, packages are delivered, among many others. Discipline is key to managing your work and reducing stress.

With in-person classes, you attend at set times, silence your phone, and focus on your studies. It’s important to understand your learning style and weigh which education delivery method serves you best.

How Do Online College Classes Work?

Online college classes contain syllabi, announcements, assignments, lectures, course materials, and more on a dedicated course site. At the JWU College of Professional Studies, our online courses are accessed through uLearn — an online learning platform. We know it’s important for students to interact with their professors and other students. With uLearn, you can connect with your instructors and classmates to collaborate and ask questions. Some courses use apps, like Zoom, to have students all ‘attend’ the class at the same time and provide real-time comments, questions, and feedback. Classes for online learning can be held in a number of ways. Most online programs post lectures online to view at a time that fits their schedule, with coursework, assignments, and tests with set deadlines. Other programs may have a set time for a class and all students are required to be online at that time.

Most online degree programs make free tutoring available to online students. It’s a great resource.

Are Online Degrees Accredited?

At JWU College of Professional Studies, our online programs are accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), one of the nation’s leading accrediting bodies. Additionally, our on-campus programs at JWU are also accredited by NECHE.

What to Consider Before You Make Your Choice

Before you decide whether to attend classes for your degree program online or in person, it’s important to consider the following points:

  • Is your schedule flexible? Are you available when in-person classes are being held? If not, then online classes are likely a better fit for you.
  • Will you be working full time while taking classes? If you are working full time while going to college, online classes may be easier to fit into your schedule. With online classes, you won’t have to worry if you have to work overtime on a particular day or get stuck at the office working late on a project — as long as you maintain the discipline to listen to your lectures and complete your assignments by set deadlines.
  • Is the degree program offered online from an accredited university? Not all degree programs are offered exclusively via online education. Others have a minimum number of hours you need to attend in-person classes.
  • What type of learner are you? How do you learn best? Do you prefer to sit in a classroom, listen to instructors and other students during set times, and provide feedback and questions in real time? You might perform better with in-person classes. If you can’t fit the commute and set schedule of in-person classes, but can maintain the discipline required with online learning, an online program may be best for you.
  • Do you have the technology required for online courses? Online classes require that you have certain technology available, including a desktop or laptop computer, a reliable internet connection, a microphone and webcam, and speakers. Here is a complete overview of the technology requirements for Johnson & Wales online classes.
  • Do you have transportation? Without transportation, attending in-person classes may be difficult.
  • Which option would you most prefer? Sometimes, the choice comes down to personal preference. Getting a college degree requires a lot of work, so choosing the option you’re most comfortable with can help you get through the process more easily.

Earning an online degree with Johnson & Wales University

Johnson & Wales University offers both online and on-campus options for many degree programs. We strive to deliver an exceptional education that inspires professional success and lifelong personal and intellectual growth.

With JWU College of Professional Studies, whether you choose an online or on-campus program, you’ll develop professional competence, a foundation for lifelong learning, and awareness for global and community citizenship.

All of the degree programs at Johnson & Wales University are fully accredited, including the online programs. Check out a list of online undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees offered at JWU. For more information, complete the Request Info form, call 855-JWU-1881, or email [email protected].

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