Attending an online school is a practical way to learn a new skill or earn a degree to improve a person's job prospects. Online schools allow students to learn from their own homes. Students do not have to worry about lengthy commutes to a college campus or finding a babysitter to look after their children when they have to go to class. On the other hand, online schooling has disadvantages as well. Since online schooling requires students to function as independent learners, some people would do better in a more traditional brick and mortar school.
One disadvantage of online schooling is the fact that not everyone is capable of working independently. In a traditional brick and mortar classroom, a student interacts with both the professor and fellow students. The student listens to lectures, asks the professor questions, and benefits from the questions asked by other students as well.
When a person takes online classes at home, he must be able to focus on learning the material without the benefit of verbal interaction with others in the class. All of his learning will take place through written lecture notes, textbooks, and message boards. If a student needs face-to-face interaction with the professor in order to successfully learn an academic subject, he will not do well with online schooling.
Students who have trouble maintaining a strict schedule struggle with online schooling. Some people cannot manage their time effectively on their own. They need to have daily accountability with a professor. When enrolled in an online course, students are responsible for completing reading assignments and other homework, without the frequent reminders of professors regarding due dates and deadlines. A person who attends a brick and mortar school must be prepared to answer questions asked by the professor; therefore, he must keep up with the assigned reading. In contrast, an online student can often procrastinate, postponing reading assignments and homework since most classroom discussions are conducted through an impersonal message board.
Online schooling has another disadvantage for those who have unreliable internet access. In order to participate in online classroom discussions or email assignments to the professor, a student needs a home computer equipped with the internet. High-speed internet service may be too costly for some would-be students. Some students may only have dial-up internet, making it difficult for them to access large files, participate in class chat rooms, and perform other important classroom assignments involving technology.
Students who have difficulty reading may also find that online schooling is not ideal for their situations. Since online courses involve the reading of email, lecture notes, and messages posted on the classroom message board, being a competent reader is imperative when participating in online schooling. An online student needs to be able to digest difficult subject matter just by doing a great deal of reading, since they do not have the luxury of sitting inside a classroom listening to the professor lecture. If a student is not prepared to perform a large amount of independent reading, he should seriously consider enrolling in a traditional school instead of one that offers online courses.