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Those are only few of the many online platforms that offer high-quality courses. From coding to social sciences, you can learn anything online. It gets better: you can gain knowledge for free. That’s HUGE!

Are we seeing the whole picture here? Let’s explore some unusual benefits and drawbacks of online studying, shall we?

The Drawbacks

I know I said benefits and drawbacks, but I decided to this post into drawbacks and benefits. We always save the good news last, right?

Free education sounds good. When you’re able to get it at any time, from the comfort of your couch, it sounds perfect. But, is it all that good?

1. It’s Harder than It Seems

You think you’re just going to pick a course, do some reading, solve a test or two and get a certificate? Think again. If you’re looking for a university-level course, then you’ll have to invest some university-level effort.

2. It Takes More Time than You Assume

Three evenings on the couch won’t be enough for you to complete a good online course. You’ll have to make a schedule and you’ll need to stay really committed to it. My experience tells me this: it takes around five months to complete a great online course. I’ve completed some in three months, but those situations were rare and I wasn’t doing anything other than studying during that time.

3. The Distractions Will Kill You

You access the online course through a laptop or a tablet. You know, those are the sources of all distractions you could think of. Facebook, Twitter, Reddit… all kinds of websites that trick you. You think: “Okay, I’m just gonna spend five minutes on Reddit to see if someone responded to my comment.” Then you start discussing and waiting for other comments. You check few other threads while waiting for the responses and you don’t even realize how you just spent whole 3 hours non Reddit.

If you’re not able to fight distractions, you won’t be able to complete an online course according to your plan. That’s how simple it is.

4. There Will Be Writing Involved

Online courses include coursework assignments. Deal with it! You’ll have to find time to write an essay and answer some questions. Also, quizzes.

5. Chances Are, You’ll Quit

The average completion rate of MOOCs is really low. If you’re like most people, you’ll get distracted to a point when you’ll forget you even started that course. It takes a lot of effort and willpower to stay on track.

6. A Certificate for Free? Not Likely to Happen

Taking an online course for the sheer joy of learning is great. But, it won’t help you get a job. Sometimes getting a verified certificate matters. You can get that from an online course provider, but you’ll have to pay for it.

The Good Things about Online Courses

1. It’s Harder than It Seems

Wait; wasn’t that a disadvantage? Get this: it’s also an advantage! The harder an online course is, the more serious it is. People used to take online learning for granted. They thought it was a joke. Over time, online courses got more challenging and prestigious universities like Harvard and Yale started providing their own programs. Now that online courses are harder, they are getting the respect they deserve.

2. Important People Appreciate Online Learning

Are you afraid that an online course wouldn’t be on the same rank with on-campus studies? Some employers won’t appreciate an online degree, but guess what: most will. If you enroll in a full online degree program, you’ll get a degree that’s valued just the same as a unusual one.

If you take online courses, you’ll have something more to write in your resume. That’s a thing a potential employer will certainly take into consideration. It shows your commitment to continuous learning and personal development.

3. Online Courses Are Fun

You pick the one you like the most, and you start following the curriculum. The mere fact that you’re learning something you’re passionate about makes things interesting. When you find the right course for your needs, you’ll be inspired to learn.

4. It’s Comfortable

It’s not easy to get into a studying routine and follow that pattern every single day. Once you get into that routine, however, you’ll be unstoppable. Studying in your pajamas is a great thing. You don’t have to get all dressed up and you don’t have to commute. No breaks between classes and no people to distract you from your goals. In this situation, comfort means better focus.

5. Even if You Pay for a Certificate, It Will Be Affordable

If you take the Introduction to Computer Science course through edX, you can add a verified certificate in the package for only $90. That’s a pretty affordable price, and you’re getting a certificate from Harvard University.


What side do you stand on? Do you think online learning is a great thing? Maybe you prefer the old-fashioned way of gaining education? Share your thoughts!