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What are the Pros and Cons of Studying Online Courses?

22nd July 20

Bricks and mortar colleges have always been the traditional option when choosing education. Being in a classroom setting and learning alongside a group of peers is usually the norm in our younger years.

However, if you’re looking to get back into education it’s not always an option.

As we get older, we naturally accumulate more responsibility which is harder to break away from. Whether that’s working full time or getting through a child’s terrible twos, it’s not easy to find the time to attend class.

Online learning gives an opportunity for those of us with busy lives an alternative to get back into education. Online learning providers, like bricks and mortar colleges, have a range of courses to suit almost all needs.

That being said, most of us haven’t had much experience with home study apart from homework in our school years. So, it’s understandable that you might be unsure of how it’s going to work for you.

Online learning is not without it’s challenges, but it certainly has more benefits then most of us initially realise.


If you’re putting in time and effort into your learning, then you’ll want to know what you’re getting from it. Unfortunately, there are scam providers so make sure your certificate is worth the paper it’s printed on.

A Levels and GCSEs have to be regulated by Ofqual whether it’s online or through a physical institute. This not only ensures the quality of the course but also means you’ll be getting the exact same qualification as a bricks and mortar counterpart.

If an online learning provider offers these courses but doesn’t mention a regulating award body – it’s probably a scam.

Access to HE Diplomas are also regulated as they’re a steppingstone to undergraduate degrees. They’re regulated by QAA (Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education).

However, some courses will only offer a certificate of completion. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing if you’re looking to develop your professional skills or delve further into your interests.

Just make sure the outcome of your course aligns with your future endeavours.

Flexible Studying

learndirect | What are the Pros & Cons of Studying Online Courses? | Flexible Studying

One of the biggest positives to online learning is the flexibility to learn whenever is best for you. You won’t have to arrange for a babysitter or swap shifts to ensure you don’t miss out on class.

Mainly because there isn’t a class to miss out on. The information is readily available to you as soon as you enrol.

Just login and start learning. You’ll be able to tailor your learning around your schedule at a pace that suits you.

If you have the capacity to add in a lot of studying into your week then do so. Alternatively, if you’re pretty busy already then you can take a break until a more appropriate time arises.

Though sometimes this can seem a bit of a double-edged sword.

Most of us don’t have the option to go back to college due to other commitments so the flexibility is essential. However, if you aren’t disciplined enough to keep on top of your studies then you might not finish the course.

Like most things that require consistency, it’s not always easy to keep on top of your studies. A teacher won’t be there to make sure you’re doing the work – you have to do it yourself.

And if you put it off long enough you won’t finish the course within the two-year completion period.

This means you’ll have to re-enrol to gain the qualification you’re after, increasing your time and money spent. Which is less than ideal.

That being said, no one can work at 100% all of the time, so don’t be too hard on yourself. Just manage your time and keep an eye on your progress to ensure you’re on the right track.

Learning Method

learndirect | What are the Pros & Cons of Studying Online Courses? | Learning Method

Online courses are usually assignment based which alleviates the pressure of a big exam at the end of the year. Although some courses do have exams so if this is a cause for concern, check with the provider before you enrol.

Assignments help you gauge how you’re doing from the feedback you receive from your tutor. Allowing you to allocate time to modules that require it and less for the parts you’re more confident with.

It’s definitely a benefit to be in charge of your own learning as you can cater to your exact needs.

It’s unlikely that in a classroom you’ll be revisiting all the topics you might like to. Alternatively, you might find that you’re ready to move on before the class which will slow down your own learning.

Moreover, the contents of the course aren’t straight from a textbook and uploaded online. Thought and planning goes into designing the courses which are also geared towards an older audience.

Even if you’re studying an A Level or GCSEs you won’t be studying a course meant for 16-year olds. You’ll receive the same qualification but with a more adult learning experience.


Throughout our school years education was compulsory and free. That’s not the case as an adult learner, unfortunately.

However, it should be seen as investment into your future.

We often lament how much better we’d have done in school if we were a little older and wiser. Now that you understand the value of education you have a second chance to reach your potential.

Yes, it comes at a price but there are flexible payment options to help you spread the cost. As long as you’re able to set aside some money and budget accordingly.

Depending on the course you choose other funding options might be available.

Anyone 19 and over enrolling on an Access to HE Diploma is eligible for an Advanced Learner Loan. The loan covers the course fees and doesn’t need to be paid back until you’re employed and earning over £25,000.

It’s no different than buying a car where the benefits far out way the initial cost.

The qualifications and knowledge you’ll gain from studying is something you can carry with you through life. Whether you want to get into higher education or develop your skills professionally, online courses provide a solution.


Online learning can provide a rewarding experience for those looking to get back into education, whatever you choose to study.

learndirect are one of the UK’s leading online learning providers. Offering courses from A Levels to GCSEs or even professional development courses.

Our courses have flexible payment options and an expert tutor to guide you throughout your learning. For more tips on how to prepare for your online learning experience visit our blog here.

To enquire about our courses, get in touch with one of our advisors today or browse below.

learndirect | What are the Pros & Cons of Studying Online Courses? | CTA

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