You need to know what to expect before taking online classes. Whether mixed in with courses taken on campus, or as an exclusively online program, 25% of college students now take online courses.
Although there are many benefits to taking online classes, there are potential drawbacks as well.
A few of the perks for taking online college courses are:
- The flexibility of schedule, essential for students balancing family, work and school.
- The flexibility of location. You can literally live on one coast and attend college on the other coast if you so desire.
- Work at your own pace to a significant degree.
- A large number of universities offer diverse certificate and degree programs from associate to Ph.D. and everything in between.
- The freedom to take courses from more than one school.
- Career advancement courses are readily available without having to declare a major.
As a first-time online college student, you may have questions about what to expect.
- How does taking an online class work?
- Are online classes harder than those taken on campus?
- What do I need to know before taking online classes?
Be smart. It does not take Sherlock Holmes to find out what to expect from online courses. Take advice from those in the know. Listen to those who have gone before you.
Keep reading to find out just what you can expect when taking classes online.
Questions that you should ask before taking online classes:
You are neither the first nor will you be the last person to have questions about taking classes online. You can learn some very helpful lessons from those who have already succeeded in online classes.
A wise person learns from the mistakes of others as well as from their successes. Here are a few things they wish they had known before taking the first steps on their online learning journey.
Are Online classes easier than those taken on campus?
In one word, no. This question happens to be one of the most frequently asked by potential online students. Simply put, the answer is yes. They are pretty much the same level of difficulty regardless of the venue.
Choosing to take online courses instead of traditional courses is not an automatically easier path for obtaining your education.
Online courses provide the flexibility to learn in your own time and location of choice. However, they do not decrease the amount of work you must put in.
You still have to do the same amount of work, just without having to leave home. The degree of work is the same, but the location is up to you.
While busy students find the flexibility of online classes to be extremely helpful, that same freedom can create a different kind of pressure on those same students.
You must be self- disciplined and able to keep yourself on track. It is easy to become distracted when there is no one to help keep you focused. The ball is in your court.
It is entirely up to you to avoid distractions and keep yourself on track. Of course, you can always build in safeguards to keep you faithful to your study plan!
The point is that it is up to you to make this happen. No one will be looking over your shoulder to make you stay focused.
While most online courses allow you to get the course work done totally on your own time, there are exceptions, and you need to know that upfront.
Students considering online courses need to understand the demands of an online class. If you’re looking to put out less effort, then I would suggest re-thinking this option.
Which students do better, those taking online classes or those on campus?
In general, those students taking online classes do the same or better than those traditional students on campus. Some studies demonstrate that online students score better on standardized tests.
Furthermore, if you are the type of student who feels lost in the crowd of a classroom, Online lectures are an excellent option for you.
Being able to pause and take thorough notes, or even re-watch parts you didn’t quite understand the first time, is another plus.
Additionally, your professor is readily available online to answer your questions about the material you didn’t quite grasp.
Must I be a technological guru to be successful?
What if I am only competent with computer basics? Most classes do not require exceptional computer skills. However, there are a few career paths that will require more computer expertise than others.
Most online classes are taken through a personal computer or tablet. Be sure to take the time necessary to become acquainted with the platform used by the college of your choice.
Be sure to take advantage of any orientation materials they provide before starting the class. This is best done before classes start rather than after.
You will need a reliable internet connection and operating system. Both of these are vital components and needed if you wish to do your best work.
You should also verify that your college of choice has adequate resources to support online learners. Make sure to ask about IT support. How effective is the support team? Ask both IT and currently enrolled students.
How promptly do they resolve student complaints or concerns? Are they familiar with walking students through the basic software requirements for their course work?
How important is time management? Does it make or break the experience?
It is critical and, yes, it can make or break your college experience. It is totally up to you alone to keep up with your work when taking online classes.
Unfortunately, because of the flexibility that comes with online courses, it is way too easy to let assignments slide and to miss due dates. You need a definite plan in place to keep you on track and on time.
Planning and scheduling are critical to success. The ability to organize is critical, and so is having a realistic schedule. Without these two elements in place (and followed), it is easy to fall behind.
Furthermore, it is hard to catch up if you do so. Delaying tactics are not your friend, and procrastination is a slippery slope. It can easily negatively affect your grade.
Do not allow yourself to underestimate the amount of time you will need to spend studying for each class. Online courses take about the same amount of time as those courses taken on campus.
You don’t have the drive time to consider, however. The study time is the same. You do have a great deal of flexibility of when and where to study.
There will still be strict deadlines in many of the courses. So, although you’re not meeting during class time, a lot of scheduling and planning still has to be done for the course.
Will I still have to participate in group projects?
Maybe. It depends upon the course. If group projects are an essential part of the traditional course taken on campus, it will likely be part of the online course as well.
Online course students are not exempt from group projects otherwise required. This vital element of the traditional classroom has become much easier for distance learners.
Tools like Google Docs make it much easier for groups to collaborate these days. Of course, software exists that allows small groups to interact outside of the actual class itself.
You may very well be assigned to a group project in your online course. Check with the various colleges you may attend to ask about which support tools are made available to you in this regard.
Will I have any connection with other online students?
This decision is mostly up to you. It is certainly possible and even encouraged. Making friends, mentors, and networking connections is one of the many benefits of going to school.
While networking is not as easy online, it certainly is possible and encouraged. Making lifelong friends during college can be very helpful later on in your career path,
Some people think that Online degrees are less personable. Students may take several online classes without really connecting to another human. However, it does not have to be this way. This is another of your options.
It’s easy to miss out on many of the opportunities to network and the friendships that on-campus courses can provide. You really need to make an effort to get to know some of your online classmates or your professor.”
We encourage students to connect and discuss assignments with other online students. Although usually done online as well, if close by, you can meet in person with either classmates or instructors.
Online platforms are more advanced than ever, and they provide more ways to interact and network online. It is your responsibility to reach out and connect with others.
You will need to be more proactive than you would in a classroom setting and make the first move.
Should I be excited or scared about starting online courses?
Certainly not scared! A little nervous, maybe. It is human nature to be a bit apprehensive when starting something totally new. If you do your homework before starting and know what to expect, you should be excited!
Attorney, and author, Alexis Moore, says that she wishes she had known how awesome it was to take online courses. Ms. Moore obtained both her undergraduate and law degrees online.
In addition to the convenience and time-saving benefits of attending classes online, she said they allowed her to learn more effectively. She also stated that traditional school is stressful in comparison to online education.
She thinks this stress is because of the precious time wasted by students. Many students say that Online classes save you so much time that you can never get back.
She also pointed out that you can interact with professors more comfortably when online. You have the option of whether to send them a private message or to ask a question during the online class.
For students who have difficulty approaching professors in person or in front of others online, this is a great benefit. Interaction between students and professors is an important element of education.
Is taking online college courses the right option for me?
Only you can decide.
Taking online classes is a departure from the traditional classroom. This option allows you to work at your own pace and location to achieve your personal goals.
Most importantly, taking online classes allows you to integrate your studies into your schedule at a time most convenient for you and your lifestyle.
Hopefully, now that you have had some of your questions about online courses answered, you are ready to take the next step.
If this option is something you are interested in pursuing, check out this article https://onlinecollegelife.info/selecting-an-online-college-course/ to see how to select an online college that fits your needs.
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