Online vs In-Person Classes: Weighing the Pros and Cons

The ever-evolving landscape of education has seen the increasing popularity of remote and hybrid learning options over the last few years. This initial shift was largely spurred by the Covid pandemic, but the popularity of online learning options has remained high as people recognize the benefits that this form of learning can bring. 

That being said, there are still many unique benefits that in-person learning offers. A number of learning institutions, including Per Scholas, now provide options for in-person, online, and hybrid courses. When deciding which learning option you would like to pursue, it is important to understand the significance of choosing the right mode of education that aligns with your individual needs, preferences, and goals. 

Below, we will outline some of the benefits and detriments of online vs in-person classes in order to help readers make a more informed decision about the learning option that best suits their needs. 

Advantages of Online Classes

As previously mentioned, the prevalence of online and hybrid learning has risen dramatically in the past few years, primarily during, and in the wake of, the Covid pandemic. However, remote learning has existed in some form or another for much longer than many people may realize: the first web-based courses have been around practically since the advent of the internet, with Jones International University launching in 1993. 

The idea of remote learning actually dates back even farther to the 19th century, when the University of London pioneered the idea of correspondence-based courses. Of course, advances in technology have since made remote learning much more accessible, immersive, and comprehensive, making it a valid alternative to in-person courses.

There certainly are benefits to remote learning, evidenced by its long history and increased prevalence in recent years. Many people were forced to switch to remote learning during the pandemic, but have chosen to adhere to the learning style, even after social restrictions have been lifted. 

1. Flexibility & Convenience

One of the primary benefits of remote learning is the flexibility and convenience that it provides. While Per Scholas’ remote courses are not self-paced, they do allow learners to attend from the comfort of their own homes. This can be a great benefit, particularly for parents who do not have alternative forms of childcare, allowing them to stay at home with their families. Some people may also find that they learn better in their own homes, without the distractions that can arise from classmates and in-person class settings. This is, of course, specific to the individual and their unique learning style.

2. Increased Accessibility

Remote learning is also a wonderful way to increase accessibility to courses, allowing individuals to start a tech career without having to commute. This opens up learning options for those who lack access to transportation, those who cannot factor a commute time into their schedules, and those who live farther from campus locations, allowing them to participate in learning opportunities they otherwise would not have access to. Furthermore, individuals engaged in remote learning may also benefit from a greater course variety, as remote learning can offer them access to a wide range of programs, resources, and courses, which may not otherwise be available in their immediate vicinity. 

3. Course Variety

Per Scholas offers a variety of tuition-free remote and hybrid classes for those that qualify. We offer a remote Desktop Support course and a Java Developer course Nationally, accessible to those living anywhere within the U.S. Our 22 individual campuses across the country also each offer a selection of in-person, remote, and hybrid courses, available to those who live within a certain proximity to the campus. Check the campus page nearest to you to see which courses are available!

Disadvantages of Online Classes

Of course, while remote learning has many benefits, there are also drawbacks associated with this learning style that should be taken into account when considering signing up for such a course. 

1. Availability Restrictions

The first things to consider are learning style and course options. While some exercises can be replicated in an online setting, opportunities for hands-on learning are limited by remote training. This may be difficult for those who learn best from a direct, hands-on approach. 

This may also restrict the type of course that you take, as some disciplines specifically require a hands-on component. 

At Per Scholas, for example, our courses that require learners to interact directly with physical computer components, such as our IT Support course, typically only offer an in-person or hybrid option.

2. Lack of Collaboration and Engagement

In the same vein, some individuals may learn best when they are able to engage face-to-face with an instructor, rather than through a computer screen. Similarly, although interaction and collaboration opportunities with classmates are part of both our remote and in-person courses, some individuals may find it more difficult to collaborate and build relationships with peers through an online setting.

3. Maintaining Accountability with Distractions

Finally, a large requirement for remote learning is the ability to self-motivate and hold oneself accountable for showing up to class and completing assignments in a timely manner. Without the structure imposed by an in-person classroom setting, some people can struggle with the self-discipline needed to adhere to a class schedule. Furthermore, homes and other environments beyond the classroom can be full of distractions, which may make it hard to focus on coursework. It is ultimately up to the individual to determine whether or not this type of learning environment and structure is feasible for them.

Advantages of In-Person Classes

While the flexibility and variety that remote learning options present can be the right fit for some, there are also a great many advantages to traditional, in-person learning. 

1. Hands-on Training and Face-to-Face Networking Opportunities

As mentioned above, remote learning can lack the hands-on component that some find most conducive to their learning style. In-person courses offer learners the opportunity to perform direct, physical, hands-on training exercises, which can be the most beneficial form of learning for some. In-person courses also provide learners the opportunity to interact face-to-face with their instructors and receive immediate feedback on their work.

To those who thrive in such settings, in-person courses can offer greater opportunities for networking and collaborating with peers, building interpersonal skills, and participating in group discussions, as well as the ability to work together on projects that mimic an in-person workplace setting. 

Per Scholas courses also contain opportunities to network with and perform mock interviews with industry experts, and some learners may find it most beneficial to take part in these activities in an in-person setting.

2. Classroom Setting Provides Structure

Finally, in-person classes contain the structure, highly-focused environment, and physical resources that remote courses lack. Some learners may find it difficult to remain motivated and engaged in a remote setting, where a computer screen is the only thing holding them accountable for staying on task. In-person courses can be more conducive for those who require the structure of a classroom environment and schedule.

Most of our 22 campuses offer in-person and hybrid course options. Check the campus near you to see which courses are available in your area!

Disadvantages of In-Person Classes

While there are many benefits to in-person classes, as with remote classes, there are also some associated disadvantages. 

1. Commuting Daily

In-person classes require a commute, which may be limiting to those who live farther from campus, lack transportation options in their area, or experience mobility limitations. Although Per Scholas can help learners with transportation costs, factoring a commute into the day is not always viable for all learners. Attending in-person classes may also be difficult for parents with childcare requirements or those who, for whatever reason, need to be home during the day.

2. Class Availability and Limitations

In-person course options may also be limited in particular areas, and are not always as readily or widely available as remote courses.

Making an Informed Decision

When deciding which sort of course to take, it is important for your decision to be informed, in order to make the best choice for your particular needs. There are benefits and detriments to both online and in-person courses. A variety of factors should be taken into account when weighing your options. 

These factors include, but are not limited to, your individual learning preferences, lifestyle, transportation options, program availability in your area, career goals, and support system. 

Someone with kids, for example, might benefit from online classes because of the flexibility it offers, or because it allows them to not have to set up childcare. Alternatively, someone that has the time and resources available to commute and to spend their days in class might prefer to attend an in-person class due to the hands-on learning experience it offers.

Many of the courses offered at Per Scholas allow our learners the option to choose between online, in-person, or hybrid learning. Choosing between an online vs in-person class takes consideration into your own lifestyle and what kind of learning environment is best for you.

Launch Your Tech Career with Per Scholas

As discussed, there are pros and cons associated with both in-person and online courses. Online courses can offer greater flexibility, more course options, and the ability to study from home, but may lack hands-on learning experiences, a structured learning environment, and the ability to network and interact with classmates and instructors face-to-face. 

Alternatively, in-person courses are great for hands-on learning, networking and collaboration, and providing structure and accountability, but can lack course variety and flexibility. It is up to the individual to weigh these pros and cons of online vs in-person classes, and determine the course style that best suits their needs, learning style, career goals, and lifestyle. 

Whether you’re upskilling or reskilling, Per Scholas offers remote, hybrid, and in-person course options, enabling learners to select the best style of course for their specific needs. Be sure to check the campus nearest to you to view your online, hybrid, and in-person course options, as well as our remote national courses.

Click here to sign up for our upcoming courses that fit your remote or in-person preference.

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