Should You Take Online Classes?
There are tempting benefits to taking some of your college classes online—taking tests at home in your pajamas, listening to lectures as you do your laundry and going back to a part of the class you didn’t understand and reviewing it.
These are some of the reasons online classes are becoming increasingly popular. Almost six million college students enrolled in an online class in 2014, according to a study by Babson Survey Research Group.
Although popular, online classes come with their own unique set of challenges. Perhaps the biggest one is the ability to schedule time to work on the class without having an attendance sheet tracking your time.
“Some students make the false assumption that online courses will be easier because they can do much of the work on their own time at their own pace,” said Russell Poulin, director of policy and analysis with the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education.
“Courses cover the same material and some courses have strict deadlines. Without the weekly discipline of attending classes, students need to be disciplined in setting aside time to complete the required work.”
Students should block time every week to work on class materials. It also helps to return to the same spot to do the work to minimize distractions and help you focus.
Taking online classes also means doing more than raising your hand if you have a question. Professors teaching online classes should spell out the best ways for you to reach them during the course.
Make sure to contact them. It’s a good idea to shoot them a quick hello email near the start of the term. If it’s possible, try to meet up with the instructor or other students from the class during the semester.
Also, consider online classes in terms of your larger goals for college. Make sure you’re not taking online classes during the school year that might be better taken during the summer while you’re holding down a job or an internship or basking in the sun.