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There are several challenges to earning a degree, no matter where you study. But there are certain aspects of attending an online college that make it a unique challenge. Before registering for classes online, it’s a good idea to do some research on the requirements and expectations to ensure that studying online is right for your schedule and needs.

At Pathways College, we want each student to be successful in their educational pursuits. After years of experience in the education industry, we know the unique challenges that students face when attending an online college, but there are some incredible benefits as well. Learn more about the online college experience, and get in touch with Pathways College to register for online courses today!

Biggest Challenges

Time Management

When there isn’t a set time for classes, it’s up to the student to follow the coursework and complete any homework or projects on time. Even though it’s possible to keep putting off work until the very end of class, making up for lost time is incredibly challenging. So it’s up to you to schedule time in your days and weeks to get work done, study, and to complete any projects. This can be difficult if you have a part or full-time job, a family, and various other responsibilities. Time management is an essential part of ensuring that your online college journey is successful.

Technical Issues

When studying online, it’s obvious that you’ll be using technology to attend classes, submit work, and interact with students and instructors. If you don’t have a reliable computer or internet, completing work will be incredibly challenging, or frustrating at the very least. Before you register for classes, connect with college staff to nail down what is required and what you need to do to prepare before classes start. There may only be limited interaction with students and instructors, but if it is required, having the right equipment is key to your success.

Response Time to Questions is Longer

Depending on your schedule and that of your instructor, if you email them questions it will take longer to get a response than if you were able to ask them questions directly after an in-person class. This may disrupt your work schedule if you absolutely need an answer to continue, or it will force you to find an answer on your own. Consider this as you plan your schedule.

Reduced Social Activity

If you’re wanting to attend college to meet friends, join social groups, and create relationships, an online college may not be the ideal choice. While there is some interaction with other students, it typically is conversation surrounding the course material. There may also be opportunities for creating a study group with students, but there is often limited opportunity for true outside of class social activities.

Biggest Benefits


If you want to study at 10pm every night because that’s when it’s quiet, or if you want to study at 6am, with an online college, you have the freedom to choose exactly when you want to work. If you work a part or full-time job, you have the ability to work on your days off. You don’t have to work at the same time every day if that’s what works for you. An online college allows students to pick and choose the times and place that work for them.


Typically online colleges are more affordable than traditional four-year schools. After you pay for tuition, course materials, and an application fee, that is generally all that is required, especially if you already have a computer to work from. At a typical school, students are often required to pay for room and board, or if you don’t live on-campus, there are transportation costs. With an online college, students have the freedom to work on their own time.

Work Where You Want

If you want to study from the couch, at the library, at a cafe, or in your kitchen, you have the flexibility and freedom to do just that. Because classes are online, you don’t need to worry about how to get to class, which can be incredibly convenient when there’s a snowstorm outside or when your car decides to break down. You can still study and continue the work regardless of what’s going on outside.

More Time For Responses

While there may be time restrictions when taking an exam for a class, students generally are able to take their time when completing work. If you have questions or are participating in a group discussion, there is also generally more time to construct a thorough and well-thought-out response. Instructors are able to provide personalized feedback to questions and can provide direct guidance when necessary.

There are inherent challenges in attending college regardless of the type, but there are some things unique to attending an online college. For many, the benefits far outweigh the negatives. Pathways College offers business administration and liberal studies courses, all led by dedicated and passionate instructors who want to see their students succeed.

If you’re new to taking online courses, Pathways College staff and instructors strive to always make themselves available to answer questions and offer guidance and support. There may be a slight learning curve, but it generally only takes a class or two to get in the swing of things. If you’re ready to take your education to the next level and want to see what attending an online college is all about, contact us today and we’ll be happy to answer any questions.