Online courses vs University courses

Most people struggle deciding which course they want to take and at which institution, but today more people than ever are struggling to decide between going online or on-campus.

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It used to be that if you wanted a qualification you had to sign up, then sit repeatedly in an old room and listen to some speak. Then at the end you had to pass an exam, and hope you could remember everything you’d learned.

Online versus university: What’s the difference?

Today, education couldn’t be more different. The girl typing on their computer in the coffee shop could be participating in an online discussion for a Master’s degree. The man on the train watching a video on his phone could be watching to course content for an Advanced Diploma.

Here is a snapshot of the main differences between online and campus courses:

Delivery methodOnline, through written content, videos, discussion groups and more.Classroom based.
Flexible schedulingYesNo
Study at own paceYesNo
Can work alongside studies?YesOccasionally, usually part time.

Online vs university: What do the experts says?

Of course, most people take courses with the aim of benefiting their career and bringing them closer to their dream role. So while having this discussion, it’s important to know what the experts say. “We don’t view online courses any differently than campus based courses,” said Melanie Gibson, a senior recruiter at Keegan Adams, “If anything we can sometimes view online courses as more positive because it shows that the candidate is managing their commitments and time often with the goal of finding full time employment to support themselves which can be desirable qualities to employers.” So if you’re worried about your job prospects after an online degree then don’t be, in fact, it might even be an asset.

Online vs university: What’s the cost?

There is a feeling out there at online education is much cheaper than traditional campus based study, but this is not usually true. Online education is of just as high a standard, and is taught by equally qualified professors, so don’t expect to save too much. The big savings usually come when travel and accommodation is factored in. Students of a campus university often have to live near campus or travel in at their own expense, whereas online students can live wherever they please.

You should also factor in lost income, that is time that you have to take out of work to complete your studies. For an online degree you can often make your studies work around your schedule, but for campus study will be required to go to class whenever your classes are scheduled, meaning you may have to miss work to complete your studies. For studying at home, one thing you’ll definitely need is a trusty computer.
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Online vs university: What’s in a name?

These days, when a business advertises a job it knows that it is only a matter of time before the applications come flooding in. Businesses receive tens of applications for every single position, and far more for entry level or general jobs. So how do they go about cutting their pile down? Well, usually first and foremost they will look at a candidate's education. If the job is in finance, and the candidate has a BA in Interior Design, then the candidate may not make it to the next round. But let’s assume that you’re only applying for jobs for which you have the relevant qualifications, what do they look at next? Well, it’s where you got your qualifications from.

Universities and educational providers have reputations, and those reputations speak for themselves. This is a harsh truth, and actually an incredibly unfair one, but recruiters don’t have time to change the world, while they’re sifting through hundreds of CV’s. They will probably prefer candidates who went to well known, well thought of institutions.

Online vs university: Which is best for me?

This will depend on your circumstances and your life. If you have a family or a job then you might find it easier to do an online courses, whereas if you’re leaving school, looking for a Bachelor’s and don’t want to enter the work world just yet, then a campus based uni degree might suit more.

Typically speaking, online courses provide more flexibility, including in terms of the weekly demands of study, so if time is in any way an issue you might prefer an online course. Studying is expensive, and will only get more so with delays or failed classes. It’s important that you choose a course of study that you can realistically complete.

What’s next?

If you’re thinking about an online course then good for you, they’re a great way to skill up and get closer to that dream job. Now you’ve got a few more decisions to make, so take your time, read through our full guides and then make your decision based on what suits you.

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