Are Online Colleges Really Different from Traditional Colleges?

September 8, 2011 by  
Filed under About Online Degrees

Are Online Colleges Really Different from Traditional Colleges?

Are Online Colleges Really Different from Traditional Colleges?

As online colleges continue to grow in popularity the debate and comparison with traditional colleges continues to get hotter and hotter. Both types of institution has its pros and cons and people will take a particular side based on personal interest or which is more applicable to the particular environment. Here we will try to find a middle ground and present the facts without bias to any particular educational model and let you decide for yourself if they are the same or different.

Course Work

There is not much difference in the type of course work delivered by online or traditional institutions. This is due to the fact that all courses must meet particular standards before they can be approved by the various educational boards. This is done to ensure that graduates will be fully trained in a particular area as advertised on their transcripts. However, online colleges have the advantage of offering their students accelerated programs that significantly reduce the time needed to complete the requirements for the studies.

Method of Delivery

This is a main factor that separates traditional and online colleges. In traditional colleges, students are tutored on campus, thus utilizing the physical facilities of the institution. They establish face-to-face relationships with their instructors and peers as they all function in a physical classroom environment.

In the online education set up, students do not have any physical contact with their instructors or fellow classmates. Most of their interaction will be done electronically through, email, chat rooms and video conferencing. There is a chance that you may see your instructor and peers on a live streaming video but you may never actually meet them face to face. Some people are unable to deal with the impersonal nature of online learning just as some people prefer not to enter a classroom for whatever personal reasons.

Practical Experience

Some commentators say that practical experience is the main drawback with online education. Unlike traditional institutions, students are unable to gain practical experience in some of the subject areas they study, especially where hands on experience is necessary. Traditional institutions invest heavily in various forms of lab equipment and group events that they use to prepare students for the working world.

On the other hand, if students of online colleges are proactive enough, the flexibility of the online educational environment afford them time to gain employment as apprentices and interns in various fields. Many employers are willing to employ online students to develop their practical skills. This gives these online students valuable real life experience in the working environment as opposed to simulated cases and training equipment available in traditional colleges.

Cost of Tuition

Surveys show that online colleges cost much less than traditional colleges for the delivery of the same course material. This is so because online students require less physically of the online institution. In the traditional college, it is necessary to invest heavily in building classrooms, providing maintenance and upkeep and getting additional administrative and support staff. This is not so with online institutions as the focus is only on the delivery of solid course work material, thus reducing their overhead cost significantly.


By far this one of the super blows to traditional institutions. Online institutions offer incomparable convenience to students where they can attend school at anytime from anywhere in the world. All their course material is delivered to them by video, email of through hard copy books. As a result, students realize significant savings from the lack of requirement for relocation and fuel for travel. In the traditional institution environment, students have to relocate to a particular institution to utilize its facilities for their education.

Resulting Merge

What we have seen evolving in this battle between traditional and online colleges is an appearance of a merger between the two. Most traditional institutions are now entering the field of online education to give students the option of the method of education they desire. This results in an improvement in the overall education and value for the students and attracts more students to the institutions. Chris M. Alexander
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