The past few years have shown us that more education is possible online than anyone ever thought possible. With rapidly expanding tools, professors who are growing in online teaching proficiency, and substantial savings in costs, online education has become an advantageous and valuable option.
Portland Community College has also seen value in the idea of a local online experience, offering a variety of hybrid courses that are primarily online but with practical or hands-on components here in Portland, Oregon. Whether you're considering online college vs. traditional college or trying to choose between online colleges themselves, you'll be impressed with the options available now. You should also weigh the online college pros and cons to make an informed choice and be ready for the benefits and drawbacks of this kind of program.
Advantages of Local Online College Education
Flexible Schedules Allow Life and Work to Continue
One of the biggest value-adds of an online course is that, instead of having to commute through heavy traffic after a workday or quit your job and go to school full-time, many online courses fit into your life schedule. People with full-time jobs can start training for their next career move before they ever give notice. People with extensive caregiving duties, such as parents or people caring for elderly relatives, can fit an online course into their daily lives much more accessible than a full-time residential college experience.
Age and Location Diversity Enriches Online Coursework
As a result of the flexibility of online courses, your classmates in these courses bring a much wider variety of life experiences, locations, and ages to the table. Residential colleges skew toward a younger age range. Overall, online coursework attracts young and older students, working professionals, and retired individuals who bring many backgrounds to the classroom. Class discussion holds more interest, and many class members are very enthusiastic and motivated to go back to school.
Professors are Often Working Professionals Bringing Real-World Insight
The flexibility extends to professors and instructors for these courses. Rather than having to teach full-time as the only option, some professionals and workers in various practical fields choose to teach a class or two as a part of their work. They bring examples that could have happened that same week in their career, and their contacts in the field are up to date because they are still working in the field simultaneously with teaching.
Challenges of Online College Education
Self-Accountability May Be Harder in Online Courses
There is an implied social pressure about sharing a physical location that sometimes can be a real motivator, and online coursework can lack that feeling. Many people report that they have to recalibrate themselves and focus on holding themselves accountable when taking online courses. While this might make a more challenging adjustment, it also can be part of a growth experience since self-accountability is incredibly valuable in all aspects of life.
Furthermore, online or hybrid courses offered locally, like those at PCC, can help you keep the future in-person practical or capstone experience in mind. Many programs have predominantly online courses, but because they include some in-person meetings, you can keep that experience in view as you motivate yourself through the coursework.
Without Classroom Experience, Some People Feel Something is Missing
Some people love the classroom experience, walking in and sitting at a desk and sharing the space with a professor as they lecture. It definitely can take some getting used to when you first start using online technology to help mimic the experience of attending class. What's nice is that the online courses are getting more and more interactive, bringing you closer to the concept of a classroom experience: with the ability to speak up, text chat, or break into "breakout rooms" for class discussion, online "classrooms" are getting more and more versatile.
You Have to Go the Extra Mile To Network
Meeting people through your online courses who may be able to further your career is indeed a little more work than in person. That said, extra work can be very valuable - if you run into someone, be it a classmate or instructor, who has the experience you want to learn about, you can reach out even in an online course. What's more, attending a local online college increases the chances that a person with whom you want to network might be available for an in-person coffee and conversation.
Portland Community College Helps You Work Out the Online College Pros and Cons
Portland Community College wants to see you succeed in online, hybrid, and in-person coursework. We believe that we have the tools, the passionate faculty, and the excellent, diverse student population to create a fantastic experience for you. Check out our programs today to get started.