Do Online College Students Get Better Grades Than Traditional LearnersMany people assume that online college is for people who do not have the desire to really learn, but studies show that many students actually have higher success rates when they take distance learning programs.

If you are trying to decide if you want to learn in a traditional classroom, or if you would prefer to attend school from your own home office, it is important to do your homework. Using the facts about traditional schools and online schools will help you make the most informed decision as a student. One factor to consider is how the grades of traditional students and online students compare.

Performance of Online Students vs. Performance of Traditional Students

There is a widespread debate between proponents of distance education and proponents who are striving to keep classroom-based learning the standard. While people can argue for and against online college programs, there is no denying facts. There have been many studies conducted to determine if online students are able to perform as well as traditional students do. You have to consider the credibility of the group conducting the study before you give results any weight.

After comparing the data collected in 99 studies over a span of 12 years, the Department of Education found that the average online student ranked in the 59th percentile. This is compared to the traditional student who ranked in the 50th percentile. The study shows that online learning does not cripple a student’s ability to test well and to earn good grades.

Issues Surrounding the Gap Between Online and Traditional Gradebooks

It can be very difficult to compare two things that may look similar at face value but are different at a further glance. While students attend online and traditional programs for the same reason, the type of student attending each is typically different. You also need to consider how online work is graded compared to the way that traditional coursework is graded.

The typical online student is older and has more obligations in life. They attend the online program because they have learned how to become self-directed throughout their life and they need flexibility. The typical student attending courses in the classroom is younger and able to focus more on their studies. Professors who grade online courses may be more difficult with grading projects and essays, but the tests could be easier for students who study the material. There is also less test-taking anxiety when you can test in a comfortable place. Traditional professors will give more credit to participation, which can help boost a grade that is suffering. Obviously, these differences are some that should be considered if you want to do a fair comparison.


If you are trying to determine if it is possible for you to get good grades as an online learner, the answer is yes. It is not easy, and you will need to redevelop a learning strategy. Be disciplined, communicating with fellow classmates online and staying organized is key. If you plan out your strategy and you become a self-directed learner, you may find that you can earn better grades as an independent learner. Consider your learning style, how you retain information, and then also what you can take from an online college before you decide where you want to attend school.

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