Online Education Unmasked: How Hard is Online College?

Are you wondering just how hard online college really is? Well, let’s cut to the chase. Online college may seem like a breeze at first, but don’t be fooled by its flexible nature. Online school comes with its fair share of challenges and misconceptions that many fail to anticipate.

One common misconception is underestimating the level of commitment required for online education. Without the structure of a campus setting, self-discipline becomes crucial. It’s not all pajamas and Netflix; online students must stay motivated and manage their time effectively.

Contrary to popular belief, an online degree program can be just as rigorous as traditional on-campus courses. The coursework is demanding, assignments are plentiful, and exams can be equally challenging. So if you’re picturing an easy ride, think again.

However, there is a silver lining. Online college can be an appealing option for parents, especially single parents juggling multiple responsibilities. The flexibility allows them to balance their studies while attending to their family’s needs.

So buckle up! Get ready to explore the world of online education like never before!

Read Also: Best Online Degree Programs for Single Moms

Online Education Unmasked: How Hard is Online College?

Comparing Difficulty: Online Classes vs. Traditional In-person Classes

Online classes and traditional in-person classes each have their own unique challenges and benefits. Let’s explore the main differences in difficulty between these two learning environments.

Time Management Skills for Online Classes

One of the key skills that online students must possess is strong time management. Unlike traditional classroom settings, online classes typically do not have specific times that you must attend class. This means that students need to be disciplined and proactive in organizing their study schedules. Without the structure of regular class meetings, it can be easy to fall behind with the course material if time is not managed effectively.

To succeed in an online class, students should:

  • Create a study routine: Establishing a consistent schedule for studying helps maintain focus and productivity.
  • Set goals and deadlines: Breaking down assignments into smaller tasks with specific deadlines can prevent procrastination and it is a great way to make sure that you are not missing your deadlines.
  • Utilize technology tools: Online calendars, task managers, and reminder apps can help keep track of assignments and due dates.

Face-to-Face Interaction in Traditional In-person Classes

While the virtual classroom offers flexibility, it may lack the face-to-face interaction found in traditional on-campus classes. In a physical classroom, students have direct access to professors and peers, allowing for immediate feedback and collaboration. This personal connection can enhance the learning experience for many individuals.

However, attending traditional classes may not always be feasible or ideal for everyone. For example, parents who are juggling childcare responsibilities might find it challenging to adhere to fixed class schedules. In such cases, online college courses provide a more flexible option that accommodates various lifestyles.

Individual Learning Styles Impact Difficulty

The difficulty level of online classes varies depending on individual learning styles. Some students thrive in an independent learning environment where they can work at their own pace without distractions. These individuals often excel in online courses as they have the freedom to tailor their study methods according to what suits them best.

On the other hand, some students prefer the structure and routine of traditional school. They may find it more challenging to stay motivated and engaged in an online setting where there is less direct supervision. For these learners, the lack of in-person interaction may pose a greater difficulty.

Identifying Mistakes: Common Errors Made by Online Students

An online college degree program sounds appealing over traditional courses to prospective students that have a lot going on. However, to maintain good grades you have to have more than a reliable internet connection.

Many busy students find online college to be too much work because they fall victim to one of these common challenges:

Procrastination is a common mistake among online students that can lead to falling behind.

It’s no secret that many students struggle with procrastination, and this issue becomes even more prevalent with self-paced programs. With the flexibility and lack of strict schedules, it’s easy for students to put off their coursework until the last minute. However, this habit often leads to falling behind and feeling overwhelmed.

To combat procrastination, online students should consider implementing effective time management strategies. Creating a schedule or using productivity apps can help prioritize tasks and ensure that important assignments are completed on time. Breaking larger tasks into smaller, manageable chunks can make them feel less daunting and easier to tackle.

Lack of effective communication with professors can hinder success in online courses.

One of the biggest challenges faced by online students is the lack of face-to-face interaction with professors regardless of their program of study. Without regular classroom sessions, it’s crucial for students to actively seek out opportunities to communicate with their instructors, such as attending live lectures if the professor offers them. Failing to do so can result in missed clarifications on assignments or unanswered questions about course materials.

To overcome this obstacle, it is essential for online students to establish open lines of communication with their professors. They should utilize email or discussion boards provided by the online learning platform to ask questions and seek clarification when needed. Taking advantage of virtual office hours or scheduling one-on-one video conferences can also provide valuable opportunities for direct interaction with professors.

Failing to establish a dedicated study space can negatively impact focus and productivity.

Online learning offers the convenience of studying from anywhere with internet access. However, without a designated study space, distractions become inevitable. Many students make the mistake of trying to study in bed or in noisy environments where concentration becomes difficult.

Creating a dedicated study space is essential for maintaining focus and productivity while studying online. This space should be free from distractions such as noise, clutter, or interruptions from family members or roommates. Ideally, it should be a quiet area with a comfortable chair, good lighting, and all necessary study materials within reach.

Overcoming Lack of Motivation and Limited Interaction in Online College

It can be hard to stay motivated when taking online classes. You have limited interaction with your peers and you’re held self-accountable for doing your course work. You’ll still have homework assignments, group projects, and research papers due, but the entire educational experience is virtual, which means everyone typically isn’t available online at the same time. 

The good news is that these tips will allow you to find the best way to keep yourself motivated despite all of that:

Setting Goals and Rewarding Oneself for Achievements Helps Maintain Motivation in Online College

Motivation is crucial. 

By establishing clear objectives for each study session or assignment, students can create a sense of purpose and direction. Goals provide a roadmap that keeps them on track and motivated throughout their online college journey. For example, students can set daily or weekly targets for completing readings, submitting assignments, or participating in weekly discussion questions.

To further enhance motivation, rewarding oneself for achievements can be highly effective. After accomplishing a goal or reaching a milestone, it’s important to acknowledge the accomplishment and celebrate it. Rewards can vary depending on individual preferences but may include treating oneself to a favorite meal, taking a break to enjoy a hobby, or simply giving oneself permission to relax guilt-free.

Actively Participating in Discussion Boards or Virtual Study Groups Can Enhance Interaction with Peers

The absence of face-to-face interactions can lead to feelings of isolation and hinder the learning experience. However, there are ways to overcome this issue and foster meaningful connections with classmates.

One effective method is actively participating in discussion boards provided by the online college platform. These forums serve as virtual classrooms where students can engage in academic conversations with their peers. By sharing thoughts, asking questions, and responding to others’ posts, students not only contribute meaningfully but also establish connections within their virtual community.

Another option is joining virtual study groups organized by fellow students who share similar courses or interests. These groups provide an opportunity for collaborative learning and social interaction through video conferencing platforms such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams. By actively engaging in these study groups, students can discuss course materials, exchange ideas, and support one another academically.

Seeking Support from Family, Friends, or Online Communities Can Combat Feelings of Isolation

Feelings of isolation are common among online college students due to the lack of physical presence and limited face-to-face interactions. To overcome this challenge, seeking support from various sources can make a significant difference in one’s overall experience.

Firstly, reaching out to family members and close friends can provide emotional support during the online college journey. Sharing concerns or achievements with loved ones creates a sense of connection and helps alleviate feelings of isolation. Involving them in discussions about the course syllabus, subject matter for the week, or seeking their advice on challenging topics can enhance learning outcomes.

Furthermore, online communities specifically designed for students pursuing education through virtual platforms offer an excellent avenue for interaction and support. These communities bring together like-minded individuals who understand the unique challenges faced by online learners. Engaging with such communities allows students to share experiences, seek advice, and find encouragement from peers who are going through similar situations.

Choosing the Right Program: Factors for Online College Success

Researching regional accreditation, reputation, and program requirements aids in selecting the right program.

Choosing the right one can be a daunting task. With numerous degree programs available, such as online doctor of nursing practice programs,  it is essential to conduct thorough research to ensure a successful online college experience. 

One of the first factors to consider is accreditation. Opting for an accredited program ensures that you are receiving a quality education recognized by employers and other academic institutions.

In addition to accreditation, reputation plays a significant role in determining the credibility of an online program. It is crucial to evaluate the institution’s track record and student satisfaction levels. Look for reviews or testimonials from current or past students to gain insights into their experiences with the program.

This information will provide valuable guidance in making an informed decision.

Program requirements are another critical factor when selecting an online college. Different programs may have varying admission criteria, prerequisites, credit hours, and course structures. Take time to assess your own abilities and commitments before committing to a particular program. Consider factors such as workload, flexibility, and scheduling options that align with your personal goals and circumstances.

Considering the level of technical support and resources provided by the institution is crucial, too.

While pursuing an online degree offers flexibility and convenience, technical difficulties can sometimes arise due to reliance on technology platforms.

Therefore, it is essential to evaluate the level of technical support offered by the institution before enrolling in a specific online program. Look for institutions that provide 24/7 technical assistance or have dedicated support teams readily available to address any issues you may encounter during your studies.

Furthermore, assessing the availability of resources is equally important for success in an online college setting. Determine whether the institution provides access to digital libraries, research databases, tutoring services, or virtual study groups. These resources can significantly enhance your learning experience by providing additional support outside of regular coursework.

Evaluating the curriculum and course structure aligning with personal goals ensures a successful online college experience.

The curriculum and course structure of an online program plays a vital role in your overall success. It is crucial to evaluate whether the program’s offerings align with your academic and career goals. Consider the variety of courses available, their relevance to your desired field, and the level of specialization offered within the program.

Examine how the courses are structured and delivered. Look for programs that offer interactive learning experiences through multimedia presentations, discussion boards, or virtual simulations. These elements can make the learning process more engaging and facilitate better retention of knowledge.

Conclusion: How Hard is Online College?

In conclusion, online college can be challenging, but with the right approach and mindset, you can succeed. 

Remember that success in online college depends largely on your commitment and dedication to your education journey. Embrace challenges as opportunities for growth rather than obstacles holding you back.

Online Education Unmasked: How Hard is Online College?


  1. I got my degree online as a single mom in 2005-2008. It was a ton of work on top of working full time but so worth it. If your contemplating school, go for it.

  2. My son started going online last month. He’s loving his online business classes!

  3. Melissa Cushing says:

    I love the convenience of online college classes but it does take discipline to stay on top of everything so that you are on track to finish the class strong. It is a wonderful thing for anyone looking to further their education around a schedule.

  4. I have to say I am not very familiar with online education. It is nice that this is an option in today’s busy society. Thanks for sharing this piece – I have thought about pursuing some college classes and this is a great insight.

  5. Hey there! Your article about online education is a real eye-opener. You’ve tackled the question of how challenging online college can be with honesty and insight. Your personal experiences and insights provide a valuable perspective for anyone considering online learning. Keep up the great work!

  6. Samantha says:

    I’ve known someone to do online college and found it a challenge. Love your positivity that with the right approach it can be a success.

    1. Victoria H says:

      Yea, you definitely have to be self motivated and disciplined. The best way to sum it up would be like it’s similar to working online full time.

  7. I can agree, from what my DiL has told me it takes a lot of self determination and regulation so if you’re used to working from home and hitting goals then it could work out pretty well!

    1. Victoria H says:

      Definitely. It works perfect for online entrepreneurs who want to further their education.

  8. vidya says:

    keeping on task and within the deadlines is definitely one of the challenges of taking online courses.. and i learned that with experience over the past couple of years 🙂

  9. LisaLisa says:

    This is such a great post! My daughter attends online college, and, in the beginning, it was difficult to balance but she did as you mentioned. She had to find a way to balance her life, being a mom & wife , and working. You surely have to set your mind right and learn to balance everything or it can become a challenge.

  10. Savita says:

    This blog hit the nail on the head! It is a challenging yet rewarding experience. Definitely worth considering if you’re ready to put in the effort!

  11. Catalina says:

    I think online school is much more harder than a normal one. I think that to learn online you need to have a strong discipline and that’s not easy at all!

  12. Monica says:

    I would consider online college. I do think it’s beneficial meeting in person but online certainly has its perks.

  13. I like the idea of college online. The no commute with be the best part.

  14. Kathy says:

    This is great for those wanting to do online college. I actually have a few friends who have recently started online college.

  15. Amber Myers says:

    It can be tricky to get things done with online school but it’s possible! I have taken some classes online and my son prefers it in some ways.

  16. Mid Life Loves says:

    I would definitely struggle with online classes. I would find being organised and self motivated difficult

  17. My brother did a few online classes to finish his degree and my son has taken a couple of classes to add to his degree and they both said it was harder online. But very convenient.

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