At many colleges and universities, online students pay less for tuition compared to on-campus students. Additionally, some public schools charge all distance learners in-state tuition rates, regardless of their state of residency. Many online students also benefit from not having to pay certain fees.

When comparing online and on-campus programs, you should consider both the cost of tuition and the cost of housing. Public and private four-year colleges often charge hefty room and board fees, and some schools also make it mandatory for underclassmen to live on campus. Online students can also avoid costs related to commuting or childcare. The table below contains recent information about the median room and board fees for public and private colleges. Keep in mind that the room and board at your school may vary from these figures significantly.

Hybrid/Blended Learning:

In a hybrid/blended learning environment, students typically travel to campus, or a satellite location, at least once a week to complete labs or other activities that require hands-on attention. These programs work best for students living within a short driving distance of campus. Learners in hybrid programs benefit from one-on-one interaction with their peers and professors, engaging in learning experiences not available to online students. However, pay special attention to what types of classroom activities make up the hybrid/blended component. For example, it may not be worth your time to enroll in a hybrid program if the in-person component consists mostly of classroom lectures. Alternatively, if you lack the ability to travel and attend some classes in person, make sure to avoid this type of program format.

 Synchronous or Asynchronous:

Synchronous and asynchronous course schedules affect how and when you take courses. In a synchronous learning program, all students in an online course meet with their professor at the same time through an online portal. This learning style mirrors the one experienced by on-campus students. Alternatively, in an asynchronous learning program, students can view pre-recorded lectures at their convenience. Students in an asynchronous program still interact with their professors and peers but do so through email and online message boards. Both learning styles require students to complete assignments by set deadlines. When deciding between synchronous and asynchronous programming, compare a program’s requirements against your other obligations. Synchronous learning programs may not appeal to students whose work schedules conflict with set lecture times.

Class Size:

Class size can significantly impact the quality of an education, for both online and on-campus students. As an example, the potential for meaningful feedback from your professor can drop significantly if a class grows larger than 30 or 40 participants. Also, you may encounter fewer opportunities to form meaningful professional bonds with your peers

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