You might have heard that online colleges are easier than on-campus studies, but is this claim really true? In some ways, the convenience of an online bachelor’s degree program makes it easier for busy students to earn a degree. However, if you go into online learning expecting that you won’t have to put in much effort, you could find yourself struggling.
More Flexible, But Not Easier
Most bachelor’s degree programs require 120 semester hours of study. If you go to school full-time, you can typically complete those semester hours in four years, taking 30 credits in the fall semester and 30 credits in the spring semester.
Online college degree programs require students to complete the same number of credits in order to graduate. You may be able to fit classes to your schedule or even test out of certain courses in competency-based programs, but you still need 120 semester hours to attain your degree.
Accredited Online Degree Programs
Even if the curriculum of an online degree program is the same as an on-campus one, the classes might seem easier – or at least, that’s what many students believe. In fact, if your online degree program is accredited by a regional institutional accrediting body or a legitimate programmatic accrediting body, you can expect it to meet the exact same standards required of a traditional degree program.
While that may not seem like good news when you’re eager to get your degree quickly and boost your career, it’s actually very important that online degrees are as rigorous as traditional ones. Otherwise, your degree might not be worth much more than the paper it’s printed on, and your job prospects won’t see much improvement. Depending on your program of study, going to an unaccredited school could cause problems as serious as being unable to transfer credits to a new college or even being unable to attain a professional license.
Difficulty by Major
While every legitimate bachelor’s degree program – online or otherwise – will pose challenges, not all majors are equally difficult. Often, degrees that require a lot of work with numbers or complicated scientific principles are harder than those that focus more on developing soft skills and a breadth of knowledge in many different subjects.
One way you can tell the difficulty of a degree program is by looking at its graduates’ grades. On average, students in degree programs such as chemistry, math, economics, psychology and biology have the lowest grades, because their coursework tends to be so challenging, CBS News reported. By GPA, the easiest online bachelor’s degrees include education, foreign language, English, music and religion, according to CBS News.
The Importance of Self-Discipline
No matter what online bachelor’s degree you’re pursuing, one of the most important factors in the difficulty of online learning is how much dedication and self-discipline you have. Online classes force you to be independent. Though the best online programs make it a priority to engage students through interactive course materials and virtual class discussions, there are no face-to-face interactions with instructors and fellow students. This can leave some students feeling isolated.
If you need someone to nag you about deadlines or remind you what assignments are due, then an online degree program might be more difficult for you to succeed in than a traditional degree program. However, if you can stay motivated and organized on your own, and are willing to ask for help when you need it, then the convenience and flexibility of an online degree program could be exactly what you need to put higher education within your reach.