20 Advantages and Disadvantages of Online Classes

Online learning has become more accessible in the past decade as potential students discover that they can find ways to obtain a preferred degree while handling their daily obligations. It is a way that encourages post-graduate learning while staying within life and career schedules. Most accredited colleges and universities are now offering programs that make it possible to take some, if not all, of the required courses on the Internet.

Public and private institutions offer online classes more today than ever before in history. This education format is a way to reach students who may have social or economic situations that don’t allow them to enjoy the traditional on-campus learning lifestyle.

As more people have access to high-speed Internet connections, online education opportunities have continued expanding. It has become acceptable in most circles to earn a degree at any level with these opportunities, allowing students to have legitimacy and more accessibility with what they earned.

The advantages and disadvantages of online classes continue to evolve, but these are the current key points to consider if you’re thinking about becoming a student.

List of the Advantages of Online Classes

1. Online classes provide more flexibility to incorporate multiple learning styles.
Although you can earn a healthy salary without going to college in some trades, many employment opportunities require an undergraduate degree or higher to obtain a position. That means it can be challenging to get through classes when your learning style might be different than what a local institution offers. Taking an online class allows you to have more control over how you retain the available information.

You can listen to music while you are writing a paper. Online classes let you interact in forums while watching television. Instead of being stuck in a stuffy classroom listening to a lecture, you have the flexibility to learn using the style that works best for your needs.

2. Your classes can fit better into your schedule.
Online classes are the perfect solution for anyone who works a full-time job, has a family to raise, is housebound for some reason, or lives in a rural area. These obstacles can make it challenging to enroll in a traditional institution. As long as you have an Internet or data connection, then you can access your study materials whenever you need them. Many professors are even uploading lectures or providing texts that supplement the learning process.

If you have a busy lifestyle and want to get ahead in your career, then learning at your own pace with an online class is an intelligent way to obtain your next college or university degree.

3. It takes advantage of technology innovations.
Online classes at many institutions take advantage of the technological innovations that occur every year. These changes get applied in convenient and practical ways, such as the implementation of a rolling semester. Some colleges and universities make their courses dominant from an independent standpoint, making it possible for students to complete their curriculum based on a schedule they said instead of what the professor requires.

As more degree programs become 100% online opportunities, many colleges and universities are finding that the independent and innovative approach makes it easier for modern students to achieve their goals.

4. Online classes are typically cheaper than traditional enrollment.
Students that take online classes find that the cost of their college degree is usually less expensive than it would be if they took courses on campus. There are usually fewer textbook purchases to consider, travel cost reductions, and room and board considerations that can cut the cost of a college or university degree by 50% or more. That means each person who uses this opportunity can start their career with lower debt levels.

5. It teaches students how to be disciplined and responsible.
If you can access the Internet, then your online course work is immediately available. That means each student must have the discipline to maintain the continuity of their schedule while keeping themselves on track for a successful outcome. The freedom that comes with classes that you take online comes with the need to have higher levels of responsibility. Students must stay organized and adhere to a workable schedule.

Putting all of your time to the completion of an online degree can backfire if you neglect the other critical areas of your life. Take advantage of the flexibility that this option provides so that you can spend some time with your family members and friends.

6. You can receive a degree from an accredited institution.
A degree that you earn online from an accredited institution has the same weight in today’s career marketplace as one earned from the traditional approach. That means your credentials and applications will get taken seriously when you are ready to pursue new career opportunities. This advantage also means that you can take the credits earned to other programs, pursue graduate-level courses, or go after that doctorate degree that you’ve always wanted.

7. Online classes offer location independence.
Some students may not have access to the program that best fits their needs. It might be across town from them, in another state, or even on the other side of the world. The availability of online classes makes it possible for students to participate in and graduate from their preferred program with less difficulty. These programs do not generally have the same geographic restrictions that you’d find with a traditional institution.

Since moving isn’t an option for many of today’s students, especially adult learners who have career and family responsibilities, online classes allow each person to enroll in the program that’s right for them regardless of where they live.

8. It provides students with real-life career preparation opportunities.
When students go to college, then it can feel like you’re living in a bubble. You receive the necessary and valuable information that will let you establish a career one day, but it is not always easy to start developing the practical skills necessary to become good at your future job. Online classes require the same skill sets that many people use every day when working, which means you can enter a job market better prepared for what to expect.

An online class is quite similar to a desk job at almost any company. You must stay in touch through email, manage software solutions, and keep track of your time to ensure that you’re fulfilling all of your obligations. You get tasked with remote work while still engaging with a team to complete projects before a deadline.

9. You form social connections with your classmates.
Although it is more difficult to make social connections with an online class, it isn’t an impossible circumstance. Today’s technology makes it possible to form relationships that go beyond sitting behind a computer. Your digital classmates could organize a group video hangout, facilitate conversations, and even do icebreakers that help everyone get to know each other better.

It may not be exactly the same as a face-to-face connection, but technology makes it very close. Video calls and other tools can help you to see each other even if you live on the other side of the planet.

10. It eliminates the need for verbal expression in a classroom environment.
Many online students find that it is easier for them to express their opinions in this structure because there isn’t a public speaking component to the education process. You don’t need to worry about a professor calling you up to the front of the classroom to explain a concept or create a diagram. You can express yourself through writing instead, which means if something can get fixed if it doesn’t sound right in the first draft.

This advantage often leads to high-quality dialogs where each learner can carefully reflect the quality of their thinking on each comment, chapter, or project. Then you can move on to the next one whenever you feel like you’re ready.

11. Online classes create more opportunities for a varied learning experience.
An online course makes it easier to include guest experts or past students in the classroom environment. Even people from other institutions can get involved in the conversations that take place to facilitate the learning process. Students can receive exposure to a worldwide perspective in their preferred subject instead of being limited to the local point of view. That means the experience has more value to potential employers in the future.

List of the Disadvantages of Online Classes

1. It can take longer to earn a degree when using online classes.
If a student is not thoroughly committed to earning their degree, then it can take several years for that person to complete their online classes. Everything that the course requires is up to you. That means you must complete your assignments, read the required materials, interact with your professor, talk with your peers, and take exams according to the rules presented upon enrollment. It can be tempting to ignore your obligations when there isn’t a direct line of accountability as there is when you attend a physical classroom.

2. Some of your required course work might require in-person activities.
If you are taking online classes, then there may be some stipulations where you must attend classes or take tests in a proctored environment. If a third-party observer is necessary, then it is up to each student to find an organization that will monitor this process. That means the cost of your classes each semester will go up based on the number of exams you must take.

Some institutions will even require a specific amount of on-campus time before they will award a degree. This requirement can last anywhere from two weeks to two months for U.S.-based colleges and universities.

3. You still need to take the time to fulfill your classroom requirements.
Online classes can help students save a lot of time on their learning obligations, but the structure will not eliminate the need to put in some work. If you do not have a lot of free time during the day, then it may be impossible to fulfill the obligations of your enrollment. That’s why the flexibility of this arrangement can be an advantage since you only need to take one class at a time – but that can still be problematic for some people.

It is possible to avoid some of this disadvantage by taking independent learning courses online. When you can complete the work at your own pace, then the pressure of deadlines can disappear. You must still have trust in the program and remain dedicated to a result to turn this education opportunity into a real investment for you.

4. Online classes don’t provide the same face-to-face connections.
Colleges and universities provide numerous opportunities for in-person social networking. When you can have face-to-face conversations with your professors and peers, then it can enhance the educational foundations that you receive. Networking functions can serve as essential connections for future career opportunities. The structure of online classes negates many of those potential advantages.

Even though you might have an institution that focuses on small class sizes and curriculum requirements that mandate interaction, a forum conversation or online chat isn’t the same as sharing coffee or lunch with someone.

5. Some online institutions don’t have full accreditation.
You must verify that the college or university providing the online classes you want has full accreditation. Many facilities are not accredited even with the expansion of Internet access. That means your degree and qualifications might not receive the recognition you expect from potential employers. It may not receive serious consideration from other professionals in your preferred industry. This disadvantage also means that any credits earned might not be transferable to another institution.

The outcome of this disadvantage can be a costly mistake in terms of time and money. You’ll want to make sure to verify the specific accreditation of any school you’re considering before you even turn in an application.

6. You must have access to the Internet to complete your work.
Online classes require you to have access to the Internet so that you can complete your assignments on time. If you don’t have the equipment at home to do the work or a connection that is fast enough to handle your course work, then it may be challenging to have a successful experience with this learning option. You’ll need a computer or tablet PC, a home-based ISP, and any peripherals necessary for your degree program.

Some public libraries and other institutions may offer computer access, but it may come with limited time or additional costs. You would also need to access that equipment during their regular working hours, which may not be possible with your specific schedule.

7. Many online classes require students to complete more work.
The average online course in the United States requires a greater amount of reading and student interaction than a traditional class. Students must prove remotely that they have mastery over the material in question, which means your curriculum will involve a lot of independent study and Internet-based group work. Although the average amount of time one needs to dedicate to their course work is about 10 hours per week for each class, it is not unusual for individual courses at accredited colleges and universities to require 15-20 hours per week of work.

8. Technology scheduling issues can limit learning opportunities.
Students must ensure that their computer is updated frequently with the latest operating system and software components to facilitate their learning. Some people may need to learn new or enhanced troubleshooting skills to manage their boot-up time, Internet connection, or software platforms that a professor requires. If you are a person who considers themselves to be technically challenged, then the tasks of this disadvantage could be a significant barrier to your current and future learning opportunities.

9. Time variations could be problematic for some students.
Students who take online classes must plan and adjust their schedules to meet the deadlines set by their professors. American institutions often base deadlines on the time zone of the institution, so a West Coast student would need to account for the three-hour difference for an East Coast deadline. If international students are taking online courses, then this disadvantage could be significant.

This issue becomes problematic for students with opposite schedules. If you study at night and your partner works during the day, then there will be significant lag time between each response.


If you have a hectic schedule or zero access to a college or university, then online classes are a way to pursue your academic goals. It only requires Internet access or a data connection, and then you can begin fulfilling the requirements of your course work. The modern structure of this learning opportunity does an excellent job of simulating the traditional classroom experience.

This option may not be a first-choice selection for someone who struggles with their organization or focus. If you’re already putting in 40 hours each week with your job, then it may be unreasonable to put in another 20-40 hours after you get home to fulfill your learning obligations.

These advantages and disadvantages of online classes must receive individualized consideration. If you live at home full-time and want a self-directed education, then this innovation can be a positive experience. When you prefer social interactions and a traditional classroom, then it may not be the best choice to pursue.

Blog Post Author Credentials
Louise Gaille is the author of this post. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Washington. In addition to being a seasoned writer, Louise has almost a decade of experience in Banking and Finance. If you have any suggestions on how to make this post better, then go here to contact our team.