Resources › For Students and Parents Bad Reasons to Enroll in an Online College Share Flipboard Email Print Chris Gramly/E+/Getty Images For Students and Parents Distance Learning Online College Online High School Online Public Schools Free Courses Homework Help Private School Test Prep College Admissions College Life Graduate School Business School Law School View More By Jamie Littlefield Education Expert M.A., Education, Claremont Graduate University B.A., English, Brigham Young University Jamie Littlefield is a writer, instructional designer, and teacher of high school and college distance education courses. Her work has appeared in Huffington Post, Psychology Today, and more. our editorial process Jamie Littlefield Updated January 31, 2019 If you’re thinking about enrolling in an online college, make sure that you’re doing it for the right reasons. A lot of new enrollees sign up, pay their tuition, and are disappointed that their online classes aren’t what they expected. There are definitely some good reasons for wanting to become an online student, such as the ability to balance school and family, the chance to earn a degree while continuing work, and the opportunity to enroll in an out-of-state institution. But, enrolling for the wrong reason can lead to frustration, lost tuition money, and transcripts that make transferring to another school a challenge. Here are some of the worst reasons to enroll in an online college: You Think It Will Be Easier If you think that earning an online degree is going to be a piece of cake, forget about it. Any legitimate, accredited program is held to strict standards regarding the content and rigor of their online courses. Many people actually find online classes more challenging because without a regular in-person class to attend it can be difficult to find the motivation to stay on track and keep up with the work. You Think It Will Be Cheaper Online colleges aren’t necessarily cheaper than their brick-and-mortar counterparts. While they don’t have the overhead of a physical campus, course design can be costly and finding professors that are good at teaching and technologically competent can be a challenge. It’s true that some legitimate online colleges are very affordable. However, others are twice as much as comparable brick-and-mortar schools. When it comes to comparing colleges, judge each institution individually and keep an eye out for hidden student fees. You Think It Will Be Faster If a school offers you a diploma in just a few weeks, you can rest assured that you’re being offered a piece of paper from a diploma mill and not an actual college. Using a diploma mill “degree” is not only unethical, but it is also illegal in many states. Some legitimate online colleges will help students transfer credits or earn credit based on the exam. However, accredited colleges won’t let you breeze through classes or get credit based on unproven “life experience.” You Want to Avoid Interacting With People While it’s true that online colleges have less personal interaction, you should realize that most quality colleges now require students to work with their professors and peers to some degree. In order for colleges to receive financial aid, they must offer online classes that include meaningful interaction rather than serve as online versions of mail correspondence courses. That means you can’t expect to just turn in assignments and get a grade. Instead, plan on being active on discussion boards, chat forums, and virtual group work. You Want to Avoid All of the General Education Requirements Some online colleges are marketed towards working professionals that want to avoid taking courses like Civics, Philosophy, and Astronomy. However, in order to keep their accreditation, legitimate online colleges must require at least a minimal amount of general education courses. You may be able to get away without that Astronomy class but plan on taking the basics like English, Math, and History. Telemarketing One of the worst ways decide to attend an online college is to give in to the continual calls of their telemarketing campaigns. Some of the less reputable colleges will call dozens of times to encourage new enrollees to sign up over the phone. Don’t fall for it. Make sure that you do your research and feel confident that the college you choose is right for you. The Online College Promises You Some Sort of Goodies Free GED courses? A new laptop computer? Forget about it. Anything that a college promises you in order to get you to enroll is simply added to the price of your tuition. A school that promises tech toys should probably receive quite a bit of scrutiny before you hand over your tuition check.