Are online college courses worth it?

You may have decided it’s time to graduate. You’ve considered the traditional approach of taking classes on a college campus, but maybe you don’t have the time or interest in this type of education. You may have heard of taking online courses and wondered: are they worth it?

Online college courses allow you to complete your studies and earn your degree entirely from your computer. You will create your own time to study and have the flexibility to balance life and school.

Here are some essential questions to help you decide if online courses are worth it.

What are the benefits of taking online courses?

Taking online courses has many benefits, and here are some important reasons why online courses can be worth it:

  • Cost. One of the biggest misconceptions about online classes is that they’re just as expensive as going to college in person. By taking online courses, you could save money on additional expenses associated with traditional colleges, such as gas, housing, and meals and dining facilities. Your tuition may also be more reasonable, as some schools, such as Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU), have not raised online tuition in over a decade.
  • Flexibility. Online courses are flexible and versatile and offer the opportunity to earn a degree at your own pace. You can fit your school schedule into your life in whatever way works best for you.

While these are a few benefits that online courses offer, it’s important to remember that every educational experience is unique.

What are some of the most common challenges for students in online courses?

While there are several advantages to taking college courses online, there are also some challenges you should be aware of.

Here are some common challenges for online learners and tips for overcoming them:


While distractions aren’t exclusive to online students, they can still affect them. Distractions can be anything from phone notifications to the lure of the outdoors when you really need to focus on your schoolwork.

One way to overcome distractions is to stick to a schedule and manage your time well. If you need help with possible distractions, schools like SNHU have educational counselors to support your academic success and help you overcome potential obstacles.


Without having a physical classroom or a set time to be somewhere, staying motivated to take your classes comes down to discipline. Sometimes events also occur that can make you lose motivation, such as seniority, which impacts students near the end of their program and can cause them to become less consistent with studying and completing assignments.

One way to stay motivated is to remind yourself of your “why”. Why are you going to school? Bringing this “why” to your attention can help rekindle the fire that motivated you to go to school in the first place.


One of the hardest parts of learning online can be building relationships with your instructors and classmates. Feeling connected with your peers can seem difficult when you can’t see them face to face all the time.

Some college courses, like those you’ll find at SNHU, provide environments for discussing weekly topics in a collective space. These chats are a great space to introduce yourself to your peers and make those remote connections on a consistent basis.

Understanding and being aware of these challenges and ways to overcome them can set you up for success in the digital classroom.

How to Succeed in the Digital Classroom

If you’re considering online courses, it helps to know what you can expect as an online student. For example, you will be responsible for managing your time. Without the scheduled hours in class to study and get work done, you’ll have to set aside time each week to focus on your studies.

Time management goes hand in hand with organization. Reading your course outline as soon as you can access it is a great way to get going and start planning your semester. You’ll be able to identify when big projects are due, so you can be sure to book extra time in advance.

There is no “one size fits all” for maintaining organization and time management. Instead, you can develop a system designed for your preferences. Finding the best system for you may take some experimenting and trial and error, but eventually you will find the best practices to foster personal success.

Is online the right option for you?

Online college courses offer flexibility to fit your life. Considering an online degree program that meets your individual needs can set you up for success. You’ll want to investigate the different fields of study offered and the different degree programs available and find the one that will help you achieve your goals.

Before you fully commit to college, you’ll want to ask yourself some important questions such as:

  • Will I receive a complete and accredited education?
  • Will this school help me achieve my educational and professional goals?
  • What resources and support does this school offer to help me succeed?

Whether you’re just starting out or looking to go back to school, it’s important to consider the type of degree you’re looking for. Degrees include:

Also, if you have already earned college credits, you may be able to transfer those credits to reduce the time it takes to complete your program. If you’re ready to transition to an online degree program, your next step might be to work with an online admissions counselor to get started.

Once you know the college you want has everything you need to succeed, you’re ready to take the plunge with your online education.

A degree can change your life. Find the SNHU online college degree that can best help you achieve your goals.

Nicholas Patterson is a writer at Southern New Hampshire University. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

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