Online college courses are taking the academic world by storm. However, they’re not for everybody. In fact, taking seated classes is a completely different animal than taking online classes. There are many pros and cons to taking classes over the internet and some people just aren’t suited for the kind of commitment needed to excel at this type of learning. If you have asked yourself “are online classes a good choice for me?” or you’re just curious if taking online courses is right for you, ask yourself the questions listed below.
Are Online Classes A Good Choice For Me?
Are you a self-starter?
With online courses, there isn’t a set time to go to class. You have to sit down and take time to login and check your list of assignments. You don’t have an instructor reminding you multiple times a week. You have to set your own reminders and make your own checklist for assignments. Students with busy schedules also find this difficult because there is not a set portion of time they have to dedicate to class; there is nothing definitive to add to their calendar. With seated classes, there is a set class time that is the same every week which ultimately makes it easier to organize the time to get it done.
Do You Have the Funds?
Many colleges that offer online courses charge an extra fee for the online accessibility. This is because your virtual classroom utilizes services from programs such as Blackboard, Moodle, and Angel which cost colleges. Some colleges will charge a fee per class or just tack on a set amount that is often called a technology fee. These fees can make a difference whether you’re dependent on financial aid or paying out-of-pocket. For example, one college charges a $60 technology fee per class. If you are taking 4 classes (full-time status) that’s an extra $240 being added on to your bill that normally wouldn’t be there with seated courses.
Do You Have the Ability to Learn Without an Instructor Being Present?
A lot of people are used to a public school setting which involves a teacher being at the front of the class, holding your hand the entire way. This is a great way to learn because if you need help, the instructor is right there to answer your questions. However, with online courses, there is never going to be a teacher that can quickly come to your rescue. If you are stuck or have a question, you have to email your instructor and wait for them to respond which can take up to two days. If you are not very good at problem-solving by yourself, online classes will just be a struggle. Some colleges don’t even have an instructor covering the class at all. There are some learning platforms that allow you to learn at your own pace and when you get stuck, you have to call a customer service representative. The latter version of online learning is not suggested. It is always best to have someone who knows what they’re doing focused on your learning simply because it reinforces that you are actually learning the subject and not stumbling through.
Is the Subject Difficult for You?
If you have a subject such as math or English that is difficult for you to grasp, taking it online is not the best idea. Online classes require a bit of self-learning and if you are already having issues with grasping the subject, taking it online will only frustrate you further and even make the subject feel hopeless. Taking a class like statistics online when numbers aren’t your strong suit can result in many tears being shed, and possibly even a few gray hairs. If you are looking to truly understand the subject and get a decent grade, you may contemplate taking your more difficult subjects seated.
Are You Confident with Reading and Writing?
The major difference between seated classes and online classes is the discussion aspect. For example, in seated classes, instructors usually give points for being active in the class. This involves speaking up when they ask questions. In class, you can just speak up and offer an answer. With online classes, the discussion aspect is a little more serious and counts as an assignment more times than not. You usually have to write out an answer to a critical thinking question and then write responses to other students who also answered the question. With online courses, you will see the amount of your reading and writing sky-rocket. If writing is difficult for you, any subject you take online may be difficult as well.
Are You Technologically Savvy?
Of course online classes require a certain amount of knowledge where technology is concerned. If you do not know how to utilize basic programs such as the Microsoft Office programs, then you may find online classes almost impossible. If you find it difficult to troubleshoot basic issues on a computer, again, online classes will be very difficult. Learning a subject is hard enough without adding more obstacles to stunt your progress.
Do You Have Fast Internet?
A lot of people will jump into online classes without realizing that a good internet connection is vital. If you have internet that is slow or constantly losing service, you will find it very difficult to be successful in an online class. Many, if not all, online instructors do not allow internet issues as a viable excuse for late or missing work. They fully expect that if you are taking online courses, you prepared for them beforehand. Thankfully, there are some nice instructors out there who will be more understanding.
Online classes are a wonderful tool especially for those of us who are far too busy to make it into a seated course at a specific time every week. They’re not as scary as they sound; however, there are a few things to think about before taking them on and that includes being honest with yourself about how you might handle them. If you’re not able to make yourself sit down and do homework, don’t even think about it. A transcript is with you forever and if you decide to take a class that will result in a bad grade, you are putting a bad mark on something that will be with you for the rest of your life. If you are still unsure, try one in a subject you love. Answering the question “are online classes a good choice for me?” may require you to just try one.