Online college vs. traditional college – a decision that most students struggle with, as they have to consider their options when faced with different types of education. 

Students have often mistaken these online colleges with some virtual platforms that provide courses without any validation. However, that’s not true. Most of the online colleges have proper Accreditation that meets the quality standards. 

As a result, you will observe that almost every traditional university or college provides online degrees. Online colleges are undoubtedly great for full-time employees, homemakers, or people who want to resume their careers. These individuals are considering it to be remarkably helpful for their career progression.  

A riot between online colleges vs traditional colleges is a common topic. Many students get confused between the two options while choosing the better one. If you are a student who is facing a similar situation, then we have got your back. 

What is an Online College?

Online colleges are virtual educational institutions where students can complete a degree via online modes. It is very valuable for people who aren’t able to attend traditional colleges for specific reasons. 

Likewise, it has led to enormous growth in the total number of individuals seeking online courses. At present, most of the online colleges have been granted Accreditation.

The courses offered by the best online learning platforms can be anywhere from basic to advanced. You can get your Undergraduate degree, Postgraduate degree, Doctorate degree, Diplomas, and many others from these virtual institutions. 

Any student can select the desired option according to their subject preferences. 

Apart from the classes, other course programs like tests, quizzes, terminals, assignments, and homework are also organized online.

What is a Traditional College?

A traditional college is an academic institution where students complete their degrees within the campus itself. These colleges follow the conventional method of education without such involvement of virtuality. Students will have to attend classes, take quizzes, and appear for the terminals on the college campus. 

Unlike online colleges, each program in traditional colleges is organized with proper infrastructure and practices. From Undergraduate to Doctorate, a student can opt for any course in these colleges around the world.

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Are Online Colleges Accredited?

Accredited colleges are the colleges that are appropriately evaluated to meet specific standards of education. Each program provided within the colleges is surveyed and analyzed thoroughly before getting accredited.

Likewise, Accreditation is also essential for all those students who are planning to study in other regions of the US. That’s because if a student migrates from a non-accredited college to an accredited one, all their former credits will be discarded. As a result, they will have to start their course afresh.

Apart from that, only accredited colleges can take part in Employer tuition assistance and federal and financial aid programs. These are specifically for those students who are not financially strong to pay for their course programs.

Currently, most of the online colleges are accredited with the required standard of education.

Significant Differences Between Online Colleges and Traditional Colleges

Significant Differences Between Online Colleges and Traditional Colleges

Both the traditional college and online college have some significant differences between each other. Students need to understand both sides to get efficient knowledge regarding the same.

Class Set-Up

The class setting of an online course is different from traditional ones. In online colleges, students can start their program by visiting an online website and accessing all the resources. They can do so from anywhere without any inconvenience. While in traditional colleges, students will have to attend their classes in a classroom with other materials to complete the program successfully.

Resource Format

The study materials provided by both traditional and online colleges differ in resource format as well. Mostly, online colleges have a better variety of online study resources. Also, these resources are personal, and nobody has to share it with others.

This helps the students to get access to all the essential notes. In traditional colleges, students can get access to library resources and recreation facilities.

Interaction Type

Many people think that online colleges lack interaction. However, that’s not true. Colleges are organizing events to maintain social connections.

Also, students get the opportunity to attend ‘once a month’ classes and do group projects. On the other hand, interaction in traditional colleges is more diverse.

As the entire program is executed in the campus itself, the interaction between the students and faculty members are comparatively better.


Online colleges are known to provide flexibility to students. However, on the other hand, traditional college lacks the same.

That’s because students studying at online colleges can take lectures and execute tasks according to their preferences.

But in conventional colleges, students have to attend their classes and meet the attendance as per the college directions.

Academic Feedback

In online college, instructors give feedback to the students in the written form. This is a more detailed kind of feedback where students can get adequate information regarding their progress. However, in traditional colleges, professors are likely to give frequent yet precise instructions to the students.

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Pros and Cons of Online Colleges

Just like any other entity, an online college has both pros as well as cons combined with it. Here we are going to mention both of them below.

Pros Cons
★ It is exceptionally convenient for all the students as they can give examinations, take quizzes, and attend classes remotely. Besides, they also get the assistance of an instructor round the clock. ★Students can feel isolated at times by studying alone without any friends or classmates.
★Online colleges provide the flexibility to study as per the comfort of the student. There are no dress codes and no limitations like traditional colleges. ★The freedom and flexibility administered by online colleges should be appropriately utilized. Thus, students should learn how to maintain focus during online classes.
★Students become more disciplined and focused on the online mode of education. They become more attentive in the classes to gather all the relevant information precisely.
★They get direct answers to their questions from their instructor and get their doubts appropriately cleared.
★It cuts the extra cost of traveling, care facilities, food, gas, and parking. A lot of money can be saved in online colleges.

Pros and Cons of Traditional Colleges

There are some advantages to studying in traditional colleges as well. Here are some of them given below

Pros Cons
★Traditional colleges provide an active mode of learning. Here, the students can communicate directly with the faculty regarding their concerns. ★Traditional colleges do not provide the flexibility and convenience like online colleges.
★Students can make friends and gain mutual knowledge by interacting with classmates. This can help them to progress better in the coming time. ★Students will have to travel from their respective households to the college campus.
★The entire day program is scheduled and organized in a particular routine. This maintains adequate discipline and punctuality in a student. ★It adds the extra cost of travel, car gas, food, parking facilities, and other requirements.
★Students can participate in extracurricular activities, trips, and events organized by traditional colleges.


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What is the cost of online college vs traditional college ?

Before deciding their mode of education, students tend to get confused between the cost of both the colleges. Without any doubt, both online colleges and traditional colleges’ costs are different from each other. Knowing the fee structure is also a clear answer for questions like How to choose the best online learning platforms for your needs?

Online Colleges

It is noted that online colleges provide a cheaper mode of education than traditional colleges. 

The cost correlated with the online programs is lesser due to the involvement of limited staff and property. 

Thus, the tuition rates of online colleges are affordable for all students. On average, a student has to pay a credit hour of $100- $400 as their tuition fees.

Traditional Colleges

Traditional colleges are costlier than online colleges. On average, a student has to pay $30,000 to $50,000 as Tuition fees. 

Apart from that, it involves an extra cost of other facilities like books and study materials, living expenses, and other relevant supplies. However, scholarships are available for some of the students.

Therefore, According to, online colleges are comparatively cheaper than traditional colleges making it a convenient choice for student to earn a degree and save some money in the process.

Learning experience in Online college vs Traditional College.

Both online Colleges and traditional Colleges have different types of learning. While conventional colleges include brick and mortar education, online college involves e-learning. The education modes are different according to students’ preferences. 

Brick and Mortar Education

In traditional colleges, the education mode involves the Brick and Mortar method. This mode includes attending general classrooms with regular classes. Besides, students get to interact face-to-face with the teachers throughout the course program. 

They can further clear doubts by asking direct questions to the teachers. Also, the entire routine concept makes them feel more dedicated to their respective assigned tasks. 

With an increase in responsibility, many students feel that the entire brick and mortar method of education in college lacks flexibility. They rather prefer a kind of education where they can complete their studies without any restrictions. 

Nowadays, students have to balance their academics and living side by side. Thus, attending classes while doing part-time work gets tough for them.

E-learning/Online Learning

Online colleges are known to provide a more flexible form of education with e-learning. During this time, the course is entirely organized on the internet. From classes to assignments, almost everything is conducted online.

Besides, the course and study materials are accessible online to the students. They can complete their course program from anywhere. Instructors are available all the time to assist students with their doubts and solve them accordingly. The cost of education is comparatively much cheaper as well.

Likewise, students can certainly continue with their part-time work while completing their academic courses. For such reasons, students prefer online learning over brick and mortar education mode.

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Effect Of Covid-19 on Online College Vs Traditional College.

Fall 2020

  • The estimated number of enrolled Title IV degree-granting institutions is expected to drop by 2.5% in Fall 2020, which was twice the rate of the previous year (-1.3%).
  • The number of first-time students dropped notably last year, by 13.1%.
  • The number of people enrolling at public colleges has declined by 10% since Fall 2019.
The number of people enrolling at public colleges has declined by 10% since Fall 2019.

Spring 2021 

As of mid-February 2021, enrollments have significantly changed since pre-pandemic numbers in 2019. Almost all universities are running classes partially online or by themselves, which is why the data doesn’t show percentages for instruction at this time.

Undergraduate Enrollment

  • This year’s undergraduate enrollment averaged at an overall decline of 4.5% compared to last year’s 0.9% decrease.
  • Public four-year institutions have declined by 3.3% since before the recession.
  • Private non-profit colleges had declined by 2.0%
  • For-profit, private four year colleges had increased by 3.9%.
  • Public 2-year institutions decreased by -9.5%.

Graduate Enrollment

  • Compared to pre-pandemic levels, spring 2021’s graduate enrollment actually increased nearly three times (+4.3%).
  • 4-year public institutions increased by 6.2%
  • Private, nonprofit four-year institutions increased by 1.5%
  • Private, for-profit 4-year institutions increased by four percent.

Increase in enrollment at primarily online institutions between Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 increased 7% compared to 5% during the same time period Spring 2020.

While the numbers of students overall have declined due to the COVID-19 pandemic, these institutions that provide primarily online instruction are experiencing a surge:

In Fall 2019, enrollment at primarily online institutions had decreased by 0.3% less than in Fall 2018, and in Fall 2020 it had also decreased by 2.45%.

In Fall 2019, full-time graduate enrollment had increased by 1.6%, and in Fall 2020, it increased an additional 1.9%. In terms of part-time enrollment, there was a 4.9% increase from the previous year to that point.

Projected Enrollment Growth In Online College Vs Traditional College (2021)

  • Among nearly 3000 colleges in the United States, only 10 percent had plans to offer their instruction for the 2020 Fall semester completely online while 34 percent intend to have classes primarily given in an hybrid format, 23 percent mostly in-person, and 4 percent fully in person.
  • The online learning industry is projected to grow from $370 billion in 2018 to over $400 billion by 2026
  • Of college students whose classes were moved online due to the pandemic, 20% surveyed said it was a major challenge to find a quiet place for instruction.
  • A third of college administrators, 33 percent,  report that, even after their campuses reopen and return to normal operations, they will still offer online and remote courses.

These statistics provide information about the growth of distance learning. It is too early to tell if this means that courses are going to be taken online, but research shows there will be an increase in online learning options. 

There should also be better technological advancements across these platforms in the near future, so more people can get used to these tools and find success in education.

Myths of Online Colleges

Myths of Online Colleges

The popularity and widespread acceptance of online colleges have formed numerous misconceptions among students. However, these are nothing but false facts or myths. Here are some myths related to online education which you are likely to hear every now and then

  • Online Colleges Provide Lower Quality Education

Before granting the courses, online colleges go for a quality check. There they have to prove their education standards in front of the authorities. Thus, lower quality is a major myth about online colleges. In fact, experts claim that some online colleges are better than traditional colleges.

  • All the Online College are Non-Accredited 

Many students think that online colleges are not accredited. That is, again, false. The majority of online colleges are accredited before initiating any program. Thus, it is always better to verify before opting for any online colleges.

  • Online Degrees are Not Considered By Employers

There is a myth that completing education through online mode can have a bad impact on employers. It should be noted that an employer’s choice depends on the employer themselves. They can accept a candidate from an online college and reject one from a traditional college. The mode of education has no relation with it. 

  • Students Can’t Interact with Instructors in Online College.

Students having queries can certainly interact with the instructors. They can contact the instructors through Skype, Zoom, or any other such applications for online class help. It is also considered that students get to interact better with instructors during classes.

Myths About Traditional Colleges.

There are many myths surrounding traditional colleges. The quality that has been established and the image that gets built in people’s mind is, at least in some ways, unfair. Although it would be nice to have all these things offered under one roof – a great campus with beautiful architecture, among an extremely intelligent student body studying diverse topics and interacting with professors who are internationally recognized – there is always something missing from this picture. In fact, there are certain elements of everyday life that can remind you of prison.

Lack of Privacy.

The most obvious disadvantage is that you won’t have your own private room. In addition, a lot of buildings aren’t equipped with good air conditioning or heating systems and may not be cleaned regularly. Consequently, you can expect cold showers on freezing winter days in the morning and waking up half-naked if your Air Conditioning has broken down during night at the height of summer. 

Internet Speed.

Another problem with dorms is internet quality . After all, you’re living in one big building together with hundreds if not thousands of other students and it’s almost impossible to make sure there will be no dead spots . The result is that you’ll experience serious lags while gaming online or taking Skype calls. If you’re studying something that requires a lot of research online, you can find yourself wasting hours to finish assignments.

Curfew and Security.

Another major drawback is having a curfew . Most universities have curfews on weekends and if you fail to obey them, your room will probably be locked from outside and it takes time to get into your dorm in the morning – not something any student wants to deal with after an all-nighter partying or late night cramming session . It’s also worth mentioning that dorms aren’t very secure. If you’re not living in a single room and sharing your space with several other people, you can expect someone breaking into your unlocked private space pretty easily .

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Celebrities Who Were Students of Online learning

With such flexibility and adaptability, online learning became common for people. Like the common population, e-learning was undoubtedly popular among celebrities as well. Here are some of the names mentioned below

Hillary Duff

Known for her famous show Lizzie McGuire, Hillary Duff completed her study through Harvard extension school in the year 2005. Throughout her course span, Hilary Duff wrote a novel, developed brands, and released albums for a successful career.

Shaquille O’Neal

O’Neal is one of the most fantastic examples of online learning. He got all his degrees through online learning. Be it a bachelor’s degree, MBA, or Ph.D., and he did it all while playing fiercely on the basketball court. Besides, he bagged two gold in the Olympics and four NBA championship rings, respectively.

Steven Spielberg

In 2002, Steven Spielberg got his BA online degree in Film Production and Electronic Arts through e-learning. He completed his course from California State University Long Beach. This made him continue with his dreams of making cinema and delivering blockbuster movies while getting a degree in the same field.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Online learning better than classroom learning? This debate of online college courses vs traditional classrooms is quite common. However, It is noted that online learning is a better option for students nowadays. The enrolled candidates have performed much better in their academics than those who undergo a face to face mode of learning. Besides, they can progress better in their career as well. How are Online Classes Different from Traditional Classes? Both online classes and traditional classes differ from each other in many aspects. Online classes are conducted on the internet through e-learning. This does not involve any classrooms or customary practices.Instead, it’s more like a flexible form of education. On the other hand, regular classes are conducted in a classroom with a proper schedule and routine. What are the Advantages of Online Learning During the Lockdown? Online learning is very beneficial during the current nationwide lockdown. Here is how Students do not have to travel for their classes.
  • Tests and quizzes are held online through the internet.
  • The cost of the entire course program is lesser.
  • Online learning provides flexibility for students.
Are Online Classes Better Than Traditional Ones? The suitable education mode depends on the student themselves. As online classes are much more convenient and adaptable for students nowadays, a majority of them prefer e-learning over traditional ones. The reason behind such mode remains flexibility in the time schedule, classes, assignments, tests, and quizzes, respectively. In online college vs traditional college, a better option certainly depends on the student themselves.

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