Are Online Schools Easier?


Getting a college education has perhaps never been easier for motivated students. This ease is not necessarily tied to the difficulty level of specific degree programs. Rather, there is more access to higher education today than at any other time in history. There are colleges and universities that have open admissions policies. If you can pay the bill, or at least take out a loan to defer the bill, you can get into a school that offers the degree you want. Of course, you’ll have to work hard to stay in school, as graduation from an undergraduate program will require a GPA of at least 2.0. You’ll also need to score well enough on a college entrance exam or take remedial classes to earn your degree.

Another factor that contributes to the accessibility of higher ed is the prevalence of online classes. Degrees like teaching and education and business courses translate well to an online model. A recent study showed that more than 6 million students took at least one online class in 2017. This made up about a third of those who took college classes during the year. This percentage of students who take online classes has grown extensively in recent years.

Entrance Requirements

For both online and brick-and-mortar schools, prospective college students will need to meet the enrollment qualifications. Generally, a high school diploma or a GED is required for acceptance. Additionally, it’s necessary to have relatively high scores on the Math and English sections of an exam like the ACT to avoid having to pay for remediation in those subjects.

Many Traditional Schools Offer Online Classes

Going to an online school has historically had a reputation. These days, however, it doesn’t necessarily mean, taking classes from a sketchy college in a storefront on the wrong side of the tracks. There are many traditional schools that offer online programs, and they will generally have the same rigor as the programs that are offered on a physical campus. For example, it’s possible to get a degree from Harvard Extension School, which is associated with the oldest university in the United States. Penn State is a respectable Big 10 school that offers online programs. Online does not necessarily mean easy, but it can mean a higher level of respectability depending upon the school you utilize for your online degree.

Online Schools Can Be Flexible

Schools that have online degree programs may not provide classes that you can complete with ease, but they still might be easier for some students. The reason for this is tied to the flexibility associated with online classes. Traditional programs at brick-and-mortar campuses require a fixed schedule. This schedule will usually require attendance during the day. Those who have to go to work every day will not have as much flexibility to take on-campus classes. This is especially the case for those who fall outside the traditional age for college students.

If you decide to take classes online, it’s likely that you’ll have more flexibility. Most classes operate on an asynchronous schedule. This means that you can work on the course when it fits into your schedule. You’ll still have deadlines to meet, but you can work on meeting them at 11 a.m. or 11 p.m. Whenever you have free time and whenever you’re most productive, you can work on completing your assignments. As long as you hit the deadline, there should be no problem. While it’s not necessarily easier, online education can be more convenient for busy adults who have to work or have kids.

Standards Are The Same

While it might seem like the requirements for degrees from online programs would be easy, this is generally not the case. If a university has on-campus and online offerings, the requirements will be very similar. Students have to hit the same core outcomes and competencies regardless of the modality they use to take the class. If a face-to-face class requires a writing assignment that analyzes certain primary sources, you can bet that the online version will have a very similar assignment. Online classes will take many hours to complete. You’ll still be responsible for all of the information that you’d normally get from a face-to-face lecture. Depending upon how you learn best, the online modality could actually wind up being more difficult for you.

Accreditation Is Rigorous

Some online schools have a bad reputation, but there are many that offer a rigorous educational experience. Many have earned accreditation from agencies that are recognized by the US Department of Education. If an online program desires regional accreditation, it will have to meet the same benchmarks as traditional schools. Accreditation is a rigorous process that shows prospective students that a school, online or face-to-face, provides the quality education that it claims to provide. If your online school has met the requirements for accreditation, you can rest assured that the program has a high level of quality that’s been assessed by professionals in an on-site visit.

Not all online programs are created equal. They will obviously differ in the level of rigor that’s required to complete them. This is no different than more traditional schools. A degree from a community college will not be viewed in the same light as a degree from Harvard or Yale, yet both are likely to be accredited by the same bodies. Therefore, a degree from a school that primarily operates online is not necessarily an indication that the online school is easier.