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Online Vs. In-Person Classes: Pros and Cons

College students in a classroom.

In today’s digital age, online learning is just about as common as traditional, in-person learning. In fact, as recently as 2021, about 60% of all postsecondary students took at least some online classes, and about 30% took online classes exclusively. That’s pretty significant! Online learning, sometimes called distance learning, has plenty of advantages, as well as disadvantages that are worth exploring. 

If you’re wondering whether online learning is right for you, the college experts at Collegeboxes have put together this guide to share the pros and cons of online learning and in-person.

Key Takeaways 

  • There are many advantages and disadvantages to online and in-person learning. 
  • Many of the pros involve affordability, flexibility, and convenience. 
  • However, in-person classes can be more engaging and provide a better social experience. 
  • Whether in-person or online classes are right for you depends on your learning style – there is no right or wrong way! 

Online Learning: The Pros 


One of the big advantages of online learning is the flexibility it offers. Even lectures are usually pre-recorded and available on demand. That gives you the flexibility to get a part time job, find an internship, join a club, or anything else that would typically conflict with your class schedule. Don’t worry, your classes will be waiting for you when you’re free. Just don’t procrastinate too much! 


Try to save money all you want, but college is expensive. In addition to tuition, there’s also housing, transportation, and food costs you have to prepare for. This is a major reason some students prefer online classes – it’s typically less expensive than traditional education. By taking online classes, you might be able to avoid some of those extra expenses and instead only have to plan for your tuition and textbooks. 

[Online classes are] typically less expensive than traditional education.



If you’ve ever had a 7 a.m. class followed by an 8 a.m. class on the other side of campus, then you know that sometimes in-person classes aren’t always the most convenient. That’s another pro of online classes – your commute is practically non-existent, and all your lectures, syllabi, homework, and other resources are available 24/7 at your fingertips, and they go wherever you do. Talk about convenience! 

Online Learning: The Cons 

Potential Isolation 

Of course, as with anything else, there are cons of online learning. Feelings of isolation are one of them. Not many people like to be alone all the time, and if you’re taking mostly online classes, you’ll probably feel like you are. Maybe you’re a lone wolf and this doesn’t apply to you. But if you prefer a little socialization throughout your day, the isolation of online learning is something to consider. 

You’ll Miss the College Experience 

Any college graduate will tell you that going to school is more than just going to class and doing homework. There’s so much more to it than that. This is often referred to as “the college experience.” Opting for distance learning means you’ll miss out on many of these experiences, whether it’s football games, clubs, work study programs, or just hanging out with friends in the dorms.  

It Takes Discipline 

Let’s face it, if given the choice between watching your 16th century art history lecture or grabbing a coffee with a group of friends, many of us are going to choose the coffee run. Alas, this is another common challenge online students face: you must have the discipline to do your coursework even when you don’t want to, and no one is there to force you. Trust us, it’s way too easy to fall behind. 

In-Person Classes: The Pros 

Direct Communication 

Going to class in person isn’t all bad! In fact, many students agree that it’s easier to learn when there is direct, face-to-face communication with your professor, instead of just a computer screen. You can ask questions in real-time and engage more directly with the subject matter. Plus, you’ll have other students around to bounce ideas and questions off and really stimulate the learning process. 

It’s easier to learn when there is direct, face-to-face communication with your professor.

Easier to Grow Relationships 

Remember that college experience thing we talked about? Well, a big part of that is making friends. Sometimes the people you meet in college will end up being your friends for life. You may even meet your future spouse on campus! Although it’s not impossible to make friends and grow meaningful relationships online, it’s much easier when you attend class in person.  

Less Distractions 

Simply put, classrooms weren’t meant to be fun. You’re there to do one thing – learn! That’s why you won’t find many distractions in a college class. It’s just you, your computer, and the professor most of the time. This makes for an engaging environment, as opposed to online class, which might feature plenty of distractions nearby, and no one to tell you to “get back to work!” 

In-Person Classes: The Cons 

Class/Program Availability 

Many students go to school in their home state to save money and because it’s closer to home. This is a totally fine choice, however, your local in-state school might not offer the degree program or classes you’re interested in. That’s where online classes and their convenience can come in handy. You can attend an out-of-state school that offers your preferred degree program at a fraction of the cost. 

Transportation Woes 

Attending class in person means you must get there every day. If you live in the dorms or in a nearby apartment, this probably is a non-issue. But if you live a little further away, you’ll need a vehicle and a pricey parking pass (or money to take public transportation every day). Either way, you’ll be wasting a lot of time stuck in traffic – time that could be spent doing something more productive 

Conflicting Learning Styles 

Even with many of the pros listed above, in-person learning simply might not be for you. Whether it’s social anxiety, early mornings, or classroom size, there are things that might make it more difficult to excel in a traditional college classroom setting. Instead, you might feel more empowered and successful doing the work on your own in the comfort of your home. That’s totally fine! 

Enhance Your College Experience With Collegeboxes 

Look, the main takeaway here is that there is no right or wrong way to attend college. In fact, you may find that a hybrid style of attending class is right for you – some online classes, some in-person. 

Whatever the case, Collegeboxes is here to help you get where you need to go. Our student storage and shipping services are designed to make it easier to move to and from campus. All you have to do is pack – we’ll handle the rest. Find your school today to sign up!