Are Online Classes Easier Than In-Person Classes?

woman taking her college class online

If you have never taken an online class, you might think they could be easier than an in-person class. Though you can often set your own schedule and complete much of the work on your own time, this does not mean they are less difficult than in-person classes.

For some people, online programs are easier because they offer a flexible schedule. In addition, people with great time management skills and a sense of responsibility can excel in online classes. However, online education may be more challenging for those who enjoy learning in a classroom environment. Here is what you need to know about some of the factors that can affect your success in online classes.


In-person classes give you a certain time and place to be present, but with online classes this is generally left to your discretion. You have greater freedom over when you choose to login, complete your assignments and view your lectures. For some people, especially those with busy lives, it can be difficult to find the motivation to complete schoolwork at the end of a long day.

In order to make online classes easier for you, you will have to develop ways to motivate yourself and work independently. If you crave face-to-face interaction, connect with another classmate and arrange to check in with them regularly. Send your professor questions when they come up and do not hesitate to use the office hours they provide. If you live near campus, you can visit them in person, and some professors may offer online office hours via a video conference service.


Some people think there would be less work in an online class if you are not meeting with the professor weekly, but you will be doing just as much work in an online class as you would in an in-person class. You will not have to commute to and from the class itself, but you will have the same amount of lecture time and the same number of readings and assignments. In some cases, there may even be more reading and writing included in an online program to make up for the lack of in-person contact.

To stay on top of the workload, make sure that you set weekly goals and keep to a schedule. Set aside time every day to do a little bit of work so that you are not cramming or finishing assignments the day that they are due. Also, be sure to include time to complete the reflections and discussion questions that may be required in your course.

Lesson Delivery

If you are someone who thrives in the classroom, switching to online classes may make learning seem more difficult, even if the content is the same. Someone who enjoys listening to professors and having in-person discussions with classmates may struggle with the more independent online learning structure. The content of many online classes is delivered in videos and other types of multimedia. Therefore, people who enjoy face-to-face contact may struggle with the amount of technology used in an online class.

To make lesson delivery easier in an online class, make sure you have a high-speed internet connection so you can access the lectures. You can do a little bit of work each day so you don’t feel overwhelmed by technology that may be new to you. Additionally, the university may offer technology support so be sure to see what resources are available to you as an online student.

Extra Tools

In general, taking an in-person class requires a notebook and a pencil. Online classes, however, require many different types of tools. Firstly, you will need a computer, laptop or personal device that has a fast internet connection. Next, you will need to have a browser or some way to access the course content online. Lastly, many online degree programs take advantage of technology that require students to download and install new programs and applications. If you are someone who prefers a more traditional set of learning tools, online classes may appear to present some unique challenges.

When addressing these issues, remember that when you are enrolled in an online program, you will always have the support of your professor. They can answer questions for you about how to navigate the class and view assignments and lectures. Any questions they cannot answer can be directed to your school’s IT department.

Group Work

Online classes are not exempt from group projects. In order to boost engagement and encourage collaboration, many online classes include group work. Some of these group projects may require you to use collaborative technology tools. Others might require you to meet through a video call or do a live chat with your group for online learning. For people who struggle with technology or prefer meeting people face-to-face, this could be a downside of online classes.

One way to help get over the struggle is to be honest with your classmates about how you feel about working together online. They may have suggestions for other tools that can make the collaboration easier. Group work is about functioning as a team, and honest communication can be a vital part of your success.

School Standards

You are receiving the same type of credit toward your online degree program in an online class as you would during an in-person class. Therefore, your university should maintain a standard level of educational expectations across both types of classes. Online classes should have the same curricular expectations and general level of ease or difficulty as in-person classes due to these standards.

At Grand Canyon University, we have been offering online classes and full degree programs for many years. We understand the learning curve that people go through when they are new to online classes and are here to support you through the transition. To learn more about getting started, click the Request Info button on this page.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.

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