Benefits of Online Colleges and Campus Programs

The Question

We often hear the question "Why should I go to online college or university instead of a campus college or university?"

We hope to provide a balanced, honest answer to this question, because sometimes it is neither easy nor simple. Both online and campus programs have their strengths and difficulties.

Online Schools

The reasons people elect to attend online college instead of an on-campus college or university are as varied as the attendees. There are some important factors to consider when trying to decide if an online college would be a better choice for you than an on-campus program.

Online College Costs

Online degrees are usually comparable in cost for students, though this statement is deceptive. There are many ways to offset online college costs, such as convincing an employer to pay for your school or taking fewer courses per semester, because online colleges usually charge per course. Also, online colleges do not charge for out-of-state attendees, so the “distance” in “distance learning” may help defray the costs of your higher education.

Online schools do not have the physical overhead of campus programs, such as buildings and repairs. Also, online university programs can accept more students, because the physical limitations of campuses, due to fire codes and available seats in the classroom, are not an issue with online schools. You “attend” class from your own computer, watching lecture videos, online tutorials, and taking online tests.

Teachers also frequently use message boards to facilitate discussions, and with the advances in technology, presentations can occur through online means as well. Living costs for everyday expenses do not change when you enroll in an online college degree program. You keep paying your rent and your bills while earning a degree. Compare this to an on-campus program, where you will either pay on-campus living fees or live off-campus, barely scraping by while paying tuition and rent.

Study On Your Own Time

If you are a working parent, or have other life responsibilities that could keep you from attending an in-person class, online college courses may be the right solution. Most online colleges offer the ability to work ahead and complete assignments ahead of the due date, so that you can attend to your other life responsibilities. With the availability of taped online lectures, you can also watch the class on your own time, in the evening after work or while your child is napping.

Campus Program

Social Aspect

Campus programs offer the social learning experience that online schools can lack. Campus programs offer interactions between students and instructors that are not available with online degree programs, simply because of distance. Some students learn better with face-to-face interaction, so if you are someone who needs interaction, an on-campus program may be better for you than online college. Campus programs can also offer extracurricular activities that online colleges cannot offer, such as clubs and intramural sports. These extras are often seen as instrumental in a student’s college experience, if you have the time and funds to attend a physical campus.

Time Requirements

Campus degree programs require more time than online colleges, and your schedule is less flexible. This can be great for students without jobs or families to support and spend time with, who live on campus or commute short distances. The amount of actual time spent in class is comparable between online degree programs and campus programs, though when travel time and the lack of flexibility to choose when to attend your class are taken into account, some people may not be able to attend an on-campus degree program.

On-Campus Costs

According to, public four-year colleges charge, on average, $7,605 per year in tuition and fees for in-state students. The average surcharge for full-time out-of-state students at these institutions is $11,990. When you factor in the fact that it is difficult to work and attend school full-time, campus programs become less viable for many.


Have any questions? Don’t hesitate to contact us; we’re in the business of helping and would love to hear from you!