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Do the 3 Biggest Disadvantages of Online Learning and Online Schools Apply to You?

written by: Sylvia Cochran•edited by: Jacqueline Chinappi•updated: 12/14/2009

Earning a degree through an accredited online school is beneficial for a wide variety of students, but there are three major disadvantages that make these programs not a good fit for a certain kind of learner. Do the three biggest disadvantages of online learning apply to you?

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    Online Schools Provide Opportunity

    The practice of looking to online schools for an education is becoming more popular. No longer considered an oddity that requires copious approvals from academic counselors, online learning programs now offer a wide array of Internet classes. The majority of students report an overwhelmingly positive experience with their distance education, but there are some students enrolled in an online education who are not truly good candidates for this form of learning.

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    One of the Disadvantages of Online Learning: Limited External Motivation

    Check the want ads and more often than not you see the word “self-starter.” It is interesting to note that this term could also be applied to a student intent on using distance learning at one of the many online schools rather than relying on a brick and mortar campus.

    While enrollment at an actual campus does not guarantee academic success, it is easier for those who need external motivation to receive it from teachers, peers, and the availability of study centers on campus. Even an only marginally motivated student can benefit from the constant presence of study reminders and positive peer pressure, whereas this same student might fail to work up the drive to complete a distance learning class.

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    Distance Education Virtually Eliminates the College Campus Experience

    Movies have been made about the wild and crazy antics that go on during the college years. Although some are not based on fact, they show that there is a certain bit of a college campus experience that many adults like to look back on at some point. It is an atmosphere of youth, determination, and also peer interactions.

    Distance education does away with this experience. For adults who might have already put in some time at a brick and mortar college, there is little reason to repeat the experience, and they will not miss the traditional campus setting.

    Youngsters who have never actually spent a semester at a school, on the other hand, may greatly miss out on the college life. Only you can decide if the lack of a college campus experience is one of the distance learning downsides you can live with.

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    One of the Greatest Distance Learning Disadvantages: You are at the Mercy of Your Computer

    Attaining and online education is only possible if you have a computer that lets you connect to the online schools. This puts you at the mercy of your computer. If anything happens to your PC – and if you were less than diligent in your backing up of your data – you might be losing a lot of the distance learning coursework.

    Making matters worse, should your computer break and require costly repairs you cannot afford at this point in time, you may also have to put your online education on hold. This is perhaps the greatest disadvantage of distance learning and requires careful weighing prior to signing up for classes with one of the many online schools.

    If you find that this risk is manageable, then there should be little else that stands in your way of a solid distance education. Educate yourself on “Selecting an Online Course Schedule to Fit Your Lifestyle,” and get started!