As a teenager, getting your driver’s license is a huge step towards independence, freedom, and adulthood. You’re excited, your parents are terrified, but the biggest decision you’re facing right now is choosing the right driver’s education course for you.
You want something that’s fun, that’ll allow you to drive as soon as possible, and your parents want you to get the best education possible so they can at least be sure you’re knowledgeable and as safe as possible when you finally hit the road on your own.
When considering a driver’s education course, there are two sure options available to you: Classroom provided driver’s ed, and online drivers ed.
Typically, there are so many options so as to be overwhelming, and making the decision that’s best for both of you isn’t an easy task.
This is where we come in; my hopes for this article is to help you make an educated decision. To do this, I’ve decided to go over the pros and cons of both in-class and online courses to help you better understand your options. Let’s start with the in-class option.
About Classroom Provided Drivers Ed
This option is for anyone who learns better in a classroom environment. Some schools offer driver’s ed courses, but they aren’t always the best in the world – take it from someone who had no choice but to choose this elective high school course, it isn’t ideal.
The books they use are out of date, and there’s no real one-on-one student to instructor time. You can find real, quality driver’s ed courses provided by different sources, depending on your state; some DMVs provide driver’s ed courses, and some cities have facilities dedicated to driver’s education and training.
Pros Of Classroom Based Drivers Ed Courses
1. Certified Instructors
One of the benefits of an in-class driver’s ed course is the certified instructor. They go over the course material with you, provide all your testing, and in some cases are even able to provide you with your behind-the-wheel training as well.
If you have questions they are there to answer them in person, and you can go to them if there is any material that you aren’t quite grasping like you feel you should be.
Not only do you get the benefit of interacting with your instructor, you also get to interact with other new driver’s. You get to learn and grow with them, advance through the course with them, and provide encouragements where they’re needed.
Another benefit of this is that, since everyone learns and thinks differently, you get to hear questions you may not have thought to ask on your own, and get a direct answer from the instructor.
Because the instructors are certified and the course is approved by the state to provide driver’s education, the course is going to be top-notch.
All the information and text used should be up to date, the vehicle you’re learning in should be ideal for driving in different conditions and simple enough to not be distracting, and because you’re able to ask questions and take notes, you will learn all the information you need to be successful in your driving life.
Cons Of Classroom Based Driver’s Ed Courses
1. Lack Of Flexibility
This one is aimed more toward your parents. Whether you’re taking the course while school is still in session, or when school has let out for the summer, your parents still have busy work schedules that they have to keep up with.
As parents, though we would love to be able to take you to class, we just can’t always do that. If we aren’t able to take you and pick you up when class is over, we have to find someone else to take you, and that isn’t always an option either.
2. Distracting Environment
Learning with other students is one of the pros, but it’s also a con of taking in-class driver’s ed in many ways. You’re dedicated to learning as much as you can in the class, but just because you’re focused and eager doesn’t mean everyone else in the class will be, too.
Others in the classroom may grow bored or just not care about the material, causing them to talk amongst themselves, disrupt class, or even be reckless during behind-the-wheel training to show off. Because of this, you may miss vital information during class, and therefore won’t be as prepared as you need to be to succeed.
About Online Drivers Ed
This option is available to anyone who learns better as an individual, and has access to the internet. There are several different options available no matter what state you live in, and we’ve provided a list of our top picks with reviews here for your convenience.
While some online courses out there are better than others in terms of material delivery (i.e. the layout of the course, use of graphics and video to break up the text, etc.), the ones we have listed are all certified to provide driver’s education online, have all been in the business of teaching new driver’s for several years, and all provide quality lessons that are sure to get you out on the road as safely and as confidently as possible.
Pros Of Online Based Drivers Ed Courses
Education On Your Schedule
While classroom driver’s ed runs during a certain time frame, leaving you stuck in the classroom until it’s over, online drivers ed is much more flexible and convenient for both you and your parents.
The courses are 100% online, meaning you can start and stop them as you see fit, and many of them are broken up into sections for you to make the material much easier to take in.
You are quizzed at the end of each section to make sure you understand the material before advancing, and you are able to retake the quizzes as many times as you need to in order to pass. They make it easy to take notes or go back and re-cover material you may not be as familiar with, and everything is done at a pace you control.
This is also a huge pro for parents as well, because the course can be done anywhere – at home on your computer, in the car on a phone or tablet, or out of town on a local computer.
They don’t have to worry about whether you’re going to make it to class, and some courses even provide information to help parents better instruct you when the time for your behind-the-wheel training comes.
Because the courses are done completely online, there is no need to go to a classroom and worry about whether the other students are going to be disruptive, causing you to miss material.
Even if you have siblings or pets, you have the freedom to take the course either in a room you know you can be peaceful in, or even with headphones on to make sure you aren’t missing anything, and can concentrate all your attention onto the course.
Because you don’t have to adhere to the schedule of a classroom, you can take breaks if you’re feeling overloaded, and some courses even allow you to get your learner’s permit before finishing the course so you can go ahead and get started on your real-world driving practice.
You do have to come back and finish the course before getting your license, but getting your driving experience out of the way is a great way to get through the course a little faster.
Cons Of Online Based Drivers Ed Courses
The cons here are kind of the same as the pros for the in-class courses. Though online drivers ed provides a help-line for questions, concerns, or bugs, and you can go to your parents for help, you don’t get the experience of going to an instructor with any questions you may have.
You don’t get to hear the questions of the other students around you or participate in any in-class discussions that may occur.
While online driving school is available in most states, I mentioned before that not all states have gotten on the online drivers ed train.
A few of them are available in every state that allows it, but some, such as Improv Traffic School are only available in certain states right now. Therefore, it’s advantageous for you and your parents to check with the schools you like to make sure their course is available in your state.
While independence seems like a con – and in many ways it can be – if you are not a self-directed learner, you may struggle with online drivers ed without some kind of supervision.
If you need constant motivation to get the lesson going, you may be better suited for classroom learning, as the online format of these courses puts the full responsibility of completing and passing the course on you.
This may be ideal for some, but for those of you who feel they can’t or won’t want to keep up with the lesson on their own, the classroom might be better for you.
So Which One is Better: Classroom or Online Driver’s Ed?
Now that we’ve come to this point when a decision has to be made, I’m sure you don’t want to hear me say that the answer is “It depends!”.
But the thing is, each student has a different learning style and preference. It’s not fair to say that either of the two options is better than the other.
As a digital nomad who likes to be always on the go, learning online is my choice. There’s no question about it. But how about you?
Are you a disciplined self-learner who can dedicate full hours of uninterrupted learning when left alone? Or are you someone who is easily distracted when you don’t have an authority figure making sure that you comply with your requirements for school?
A disciplined learner will not have any problem completing an online driver’s ed course. But a distracted learner will do better if he studies with an instructor keeping an eye on him/her.
Another factor to consider here is that the in-person classroom setup follows a specific schedule – you have to go to class at a designated time and place and sit there for hours until the session is complete.
Yes, you get to meet your friends and have time to chat with them about the lessons. But if you are someone who finds it hard to keep up with the pace of other students, I bet you’ll be shy to admit that and you’ll just end up going with the flow. So instead of understanding the lessons fully, you are forced to pretend you can follow.
If you’re doing the course online, you can stop anytime (unless course timers are required). You can take the course whenever you’re up for it and take a rest when you feel like you’ve learned too much information already. In short, you have control over your study pace.
What about your friends? Well, don’t you have social media for that nowadays?
Besides, with the COVID-19 pandemic (even with vaccines being distributed) still causing troubles in many countries around the world, the more you keep yourself away from direct interactions, the more you’ll feel safe.
Many in-person classes have also taken health precautions which do not only include safety measures like socially distanced desks, required face masks, and frequent sanitation, most schools have also started offering online classes.
So yes, the choice is yours, but I’d still say that online driver’s ed is the better option.