5 Things I Wish I’d Known Before Taking An Online Class

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This year I finished my freshman year of college and it was wonderful. I met great friends and built wonderful relationships with my teachers. Unfortunately, I took an online class that I ended retaking earlier this summer. I probably wouldn’t have taken it had I known these simple things.

Online classes are not meant for full-time students.

I have no idea what the registration office was thinking when they gave me this class. Whenever you see a commercial for online classes, the target audience is always a busy mother or father, or a young adult who can’t afford to attend a university or junior college. Please take my advice, do not – I repeat, DO NOT take an online class if you are enrolled full-time. Find out how units the college considers to be full-time. If the online class fulfills that requirement, swap it for a classroom course. Trust me, it will make your life so much easier.

Online classes are nothing like homeschool.

Calling all homeschoolers! Do not be fooled because this is where it all went wrong for me. I was homeschooled for nine years and I handled it very well. I used a DVD program that filmed the classroom lessons and sent them to my home along with the paperwork. Naturally I would think that the online class would be similar, but it is nowhere near it.

Homeschool has a structure very similar to public and private schools – seven periods with two to three breaks. Online classes on the other hand only require that homework be turned in usually by 11:59 PM or whenever the teacher sets the time. Evenly though it has a little more freedom, you might find yourself forgetting that you even have an online class until 10:00 at night and be hurrying to get the work done in time.

Online teachers have horrible communication.

Not all online teachers have bad communication but unfortunately most of them do. I realize that these teachers have other responsibilities such as teaching two other classes at different universities, but that is no reason to forget about the online students. If you have a question that needs a quick response, you probably won’t get one. Most online teachers prefer to be contacted through email, but you might not get top priority like the students from their classroom courses. If you’re lucky enough to have a teacher who gives out his phone number, be prepared to find out that he or she either lives in a different time zone, which means that when you’re allowed to call them back, you have a night class during that time or the teacher is asleep.

Online teachers don’t care about your other classes.

You’ve probably heard this about every teacher, but honestly, classroom teachers are far more understanding than online teachers, which is weird because many of them teach in the classroom. Whatever the case is, online teachers don’t care if you don’t get the work done in time. The only way you’ll be given a second chance is if there was a glitch with you homework on the teachers end, or if you were involved in a near death experience that required hospitalization. Anything short of that and you’re screwed.

Online classes are better suited for summer.

If you plan on taking another online classes, take it during the summer. I know enrolling in a summer course, aka a Maymester, isn’t ideal, but there are some great benefits. Taking online classes will shorten your time at school meaning you’ll probably end up graduating earlier. Online classes (and regular classes) are cheaper during the summer with the only downside being that the school most likely doesn’t offer financial aid during that time. Lastly, summer online classes are only a month long. The workload might be a little more difficult because you’re essentially doing 4-5 months of work in a month period, but it is definitely worth it. Also, the teacher might have fewer classes to teach, meaning he or she will be better at communication.

Online class versus a classroom course – whatever you decide to do, make sure you make the most of your collegiate experience. Whether you’re going in straight from high school or waiting until the kids are a little older, college will always a be lifetime experience to cherish. The knowledge you’ll gain and the friendships you’ll make will shape you in ways you never expected and usually for the better. As poet Horace and lovable teacher “John Keating” have said: carpe diem! TC mark

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