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Your Guide to Attending College In-Person vs. Online

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Take classes online or in person?

Online learning may be a good option if you’re looking for flexibility and convenience. If you want interaction and structure, in-person learning may be better. Before deciding, weighing the in-person vs. online modalities is crucial.


Are online classes easier or harder?

While you can mostly work on online coursework at your own pace, you will regularly lack IRL interactions with your professor and fellow students. Even though technological improvements have bridged some of these gaps, the lack of face-to-face interaction and synchronous classes won’t hold you accountable as much as in-person courses. It might be harder to get support quickly if you’re confused.


In-person might be right for you if you are looking for:

  • Campus life: In-person learning offers more opportunities for interaction with instructors and other students. If you are looking for the full campus experience, such as attending sporting events, joining in-person clubs, making friends, and living in residence halls, the in-person college experience is your best bet.
  • Networking opportunities: In-person students might have more access to networking opportunities only available to in-person students, such as attending campus events, such as job fairs, or professional opportunities.
  • Structure: In-person students usually experience more structure with mandatory class attendance and in-person support. You thrive in an in-person learning environment if you aren’t disciplined or work well independently.
  • Technical Advantages: While we’re moving towards a technology-first society, in-person classes don’t require a strong internet connection. As an online learner, technical difficulties can be more of a disruption to your learning than it would be for in-person students.  


Online learning might be right for you if you are looking for:

  • Flexibility: Are you looking for flexibility in your schedule because you work demanding or odd hours or have other commitments? The benefits of online learning include flexibility and professors who usually understand online students' commitments outside of class. Online classes are also generally condensed to 7.5 weeks, which will be less of a time commitment.
  • Convenience: Online learning can be more convenient than in-person learning, as students don't have to commute to campus or worry about finding parking.
  • Cost-effectiveness: Online learning can be more cost-effective than in-person learning, as students may not have to pay for room and board or other expenses associated with living on campus.
  • Accessibility: Online learning can be more accessible to students with disabilities or other challenges that make it difficult to attend in-person classes.



Deciding on a college is a big decision. Deciding whether an in-person or online program is right for you can be just as big of a decision! Online learning in the United States is on the rise, with nearly 8.5 million U.S. students taking at least some online classes at public higher education institutions. However, as a student, an all-in-person experience could be right for you. Maybe a mix of in-person and online classes is the right recipe for your success. Remember, whichever path you choose, you’ll get the same courses, learn from the same professors, and earn the same diploma from the University of Arizona; your experience will just be different. 


Learn about the University of Arizona In-Person Experience

Learn About the Arizona Online Experience


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