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One minute I was packing my suitcase to go home for spring break, and the next I’m told returning to campus is no longer an option. Just like that, my college experience went from what you see in movies to staring at a computer screen all day for the remainder of the semester.

At first, the change from in-person to online learning was one I despised, especially since I was taking STAT 200 and math isn’t my cup of tea. It made learning more difficult for me and took a while to adjust to this new learning environment. At the end of the semester with COVID only getting worse, I knew this online format was here to stay.

The world of higher education has been forever changed by the pandemic. Earning a college degree doesn’t look like how you would’ve imagined anymore. And, while the switch from in-person to virtual to now back to in-person learning in the fall wasn’t always easy, it has come with many benefits.

In-Person or Virtual

Deciding whether in-person or virtual college is right for you isn’t a simple decision. Considering the pros and cons of both methods of learning is especially important when you’re thinking about what the best way to earn that college degree is for you.

One of the biggest things to take into consideration is how much time you’re able to put toward earning your degree. A big benefit to a virtual learning environment is the ability to be flexible with your schedule. While “Zoom University” definitely became the norm for me, there were classes that were completely online and hybrid (both in-person and online) that my peers and I took advantage of. Opting for classes that don’t require you to log in at a specific time is the best option for someone who may not be able to commit to a set class schedule.

But, let’s say you’re able to commit to the set schedule. Weighing whether you want to be in a traditional classroom environment or take classes through online platforms like Zoom is something else to consider.

I personally enjoy being on campus. I feel more connected to my peers and find that my focus is better when I’m sitting in a classroom. I’m also a social butterfly, so I love being able to walk around and see my friends in-person regularly.

College Costs

Being on-campus also comes with access to resources from offices on-campus. However, being on-campus means that room and board, as well as meal plans, come as an added expense. Financial aid, such as scholarships or student loans, is a great way to help you cover college costs from tuition and fees to housing, textbooks and meals. Navy Federal’s private student loans even include access to a free career assistance program.

Remote learning (and working) on the other hand, has allowed me to be flexible, and I can learn from anywhere as long as I have internet. Being on-campus wasn’t necessary for many people this past year, which helped put more money back into their wallets and save on college expenses. Some of my friends are even opting to remain remote and stay home to finish their degrees. They’ve found that virtual learning was beneficial for them.

Whichever way you decide to get your degree, make sure you have a plan and you’re doing what’s best for you and your finances. I’m excited to return to campus and get back into the swing of things for my last year of undergrad, but I’m sure going to miss having class in bed sometimes.

Author Bio: Heidy C. is a rising senior at Penn State University, majoring in Public Relations with minors in Latino/a studies and Portuguese. She’s a summer intern in Corporate Communications at Navy Federal Credit Union. When she’s not working, she enjoys simple pleasures like eating good food, catching sun and binge-watching shows.

This article is intended to provide general information and shouldn't be considered legal, tax or financial advice. It's always a good idea to consult a tax or financial advisor for specific information on how certain laws apply to your situation and about your individual financial situation.