Disadvantages of Taking an Online course

Technological advances have opened the door to online schooling and it’s becoming a popular alternative to formal education.  Stay-at-home moms are taking advantage of online schooling to continue to be with their children and corporate workers are taking online courses to stay competitive in this changing economy by continuing on to get their Masters or PHD. 

There are many advantages to taking online courses because they allow people to study and accelerate at their own pace from the comfort of their homes.  However, there are some disadvantages to online schooling that students should be aware of. 

Independent learning

Online education can seem like a great alternative because there aren’t any tedious lectures or classes that you need to attend.  However, the price for online schooling is that the responsibility of picking up the material is solely on the individual.  Students are expected to learn and study the material on their own. 

Professor involvement is limited to grading, comments, discussion boards and the occasional webinar.  Because of the unstructured format, some students struggle with being able to retain and understand the information in an online course.

No hands-on involvement

When taking an online course it can be difficult to receive the extra attention that some students may need.  Everyone’s hours are different in online courses, so it may not be easy or timely to get a response back when needed. 

The limited professor involvement and limited interaction with other classmates can be a difficult obstacle to overcome for many online students.

Technological problems

Anyone who’s owned an electronic device or worked with a computer software program knows that they are never fool proof.  There are times when online course sites shut down, internet capability stops working or the online test you just spent an hour working on won’t submit.  The challenges that come with online schooling can be frustrating and time consuming. 

Basing all your submissions for a course on online terminals can be a major disadvantage.  It’s important to keep an alternate form of online capability for your submissions.  A backup laptop or a nearby library can be your savior for technological problems.


It can be difficult to have real world experience when taking online courses.  So many courses include a form of speech or presentation that is essential when preparing for a real world career.  Whether it’s marketing, advertising or speech; there is a clear disadvantage when taking an online course because there isn’t immediate feedback like when you’re physically giving the presentation in front of a classroom. 

Also, even if the online course is taken at an accredited university many companies still don’t look at online schooling as a credible form of education.  The credibility factor is a huge disadvantage when obtaining a degree from an online school because all of your hard work and money could have been wasted. 

The most important thing to remember about online schooling is that the disadvantages and advantages are different depending on the individual.  Some people thrive in independent learning situations and many universities offer online courses that allow students to receive their degree without it stipulating online involvement. 

Although online schooling may not be the best for learning hands-on trades like dry walling, they can be a great money and time saving feature to help further your education.  Being aware of the disadvantages can help make the process go more smoothly as well as prevent some of the stresses that come when taking an online course.