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Online Degrees

Part of Western Governors University

January 17, 2020

Student Success

Distance learning pros and cons.

Distance learning

Distance learning, often called distance education, is the process where students utilize the internet to attend classes and complete courses, without having to physically attend a school. Distance learning is increasing in popularity as technology advances and more opportunities arise for students to participate in quality distance education. There are many reasons why students may want to pursue distance education as opposed to traditional schooling. Similarly, there are many pros and cons to this kind of learning, and as it gains popularity, it’s important to research and learn if this kind of learning could be a good fit for you. 

Some students may find that they will have problems with distance learning or issues with online education. It may not be the best fit for everyone. But other students will find major value of online education and huge benefits of online learning. You simply need to weigh the pros and cons and decide if it’s a good fit for you personally.

Technical elements.

Online or distance learning often has technology involved to help you do your coursework.

Pros: There are many pros to the technology element of distance learning. Many students have the ability to learn new tech and excel in it. They can feel confident with their technological abilities and even list on their resume the kinds of programs they used as part of their coursework. Another huge pro with technology as part of learning is that you can pursue your education from anywhere that has internet access. Students don’t have to go to a campus to learn, thanks to technology they can make anywhere their classroom.

Cons: Sometimes students will find there are technical difficulties with online learning. There may be days when their internet doesn’t work, when programs and software are down and they’re unable to access their courses. This can be frustrating for many students, though often these bugs are fixed quickly and students are able to continue on with their work.


Every student wants to know that their work will be valuable to a potential employer. Are online colleges credible? Is online learning effective? These may be questions students ask when considering distance learning. 

Pros: More employers than ever before recognize that online learning is credible and legitimate. Research shows that many employers don’t have any issues with online degrees, and won’t bat an eye when considering candidates who have completed a distance education. What is important to employers is that your school is accredited. Schools like WGU work hard to make sure they are accredited and reputable so students get a degree that is valuable to them and to employers. Additionally, employers may respect you more for having gotten an online education; they’ll recognize the time and discipline it takes to pursue distance learning and may be more impressed by it. 

Cons: Some employers and companies may still have a hard time with online education. When employers don’t understand the rigor and quality of an online education, they may be hesitant to hire someone with an online degree. Additionally, for-profit or non-accredited online schools are often a huge issue for credibility. WGU is a non-profit, accredited school that is likely to not be an issue for most employers. 

Hands on computer screen social media


Flexibility is the main reason why many people choose online education. But there are pros and cons involved with the flexibility of distance learning. 

Pros: If you have a full-time job or family responsibilities, the flexibility of online education is the biggest pro for you. Distance learning means that you can continue with your job and family needs, and do your schooling when the timing is right for you. And at institutions like WGU, you can largely work at a pace that works for you. With competency-based education, you can move quicker through material you understand well, and spend more time on material you need help with. This flexibility means that you are in charge of your schedule and your schooling.

Cons: Some distance learning doesn’t offer as much flexibility as you need, requiring you to log into class time or view discussions as they happen. While it still may be more convenient than driving to a campus, this kind of schedule online learning may lack the flexibility you need. At WGU, we don’t require you to log in at a certain time to view lectures or have discussions. You truly have the flexibility you want and need. Similarly, the flexibility of online learning can be difficult for some if they’re not self-motivated. Since you’re not expected to show up at a certain time, you have to have the discipline to make time for your education. 

Social interactions.

Many students are concerned that distance learning means they are entirely alone. For WGU students, that’s simply not the case.

Pros: Online learning often offers many opportunities for students to still get the interactions they want. For example, WGU students work often with their Program Mentor over the phone or email, giving them an important lifeline. Students can also interact with faculty for their courses if they have questions or concerns. Additionally, student networking allows WGU students to interact and socialize, compare thoughts on courses, and offer help. And a large alumni network means you can continue to make connections throughout your career. Many online universities offer similar social options so students can interact and connect. 

Cons: For students who truly want face-to-face interactions, distance learning simply may not be the best option. While you can get interactions with online education, often they are over the phone or internet, so face-to-face connections aren’t as prevalent. 

While online learning may not be for everyone, many of the questions students have about pursuing distance education can be answered. Many students will find that for them, the pros greatly outweigh the cons when it comes to considering distance learning. If you’re ready to pursue higher education in a way that truly works best for you, consider WGU.

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