Distance education is nearly three centuries old; online learning is simply the newest version of the correspondence course. For students who may not be able to take classes on campus all the time, or those who want a flexible learning plan, online classes may be the best choice. For some students, online courses may even be a more cost-effective option than in-person classes. If you apply yourself, either style will effectively teach you the material.
Online classes are a great option for self-motivated individuals who are familiar with computers. Some schools offer the same class online and in-person; make your decision based on your schedule, the price of the class, and your personal learning style. Online classes may also be offered during the summer, so you could take on-campus classes during the year and online classes in the summer, and potentially graduate early. Online classes don’t work for everyone—there’s no instant feedback from your professor, for example—but trying one out could open new doors!
If you need the flexibility of an online class and you’re ready to commit to learning on your own, it may be time to sign up. If you’re worried about the lack of face-to-face interaction, though, or aren’t sure you have the technological know-how to succeed, it may be best to enroll in in-person classes. Only you can decide which route is the best for your schedule and learning style, though you should keep in mind that some subjects don’t translate well from the classroom to the virtual classroom.
The cost of an online class may depend on your state of residency, as well as the policies of your current institution, but your federal financial aid package applies to both online and in-person classes equally. Registration should be similar to the way you’d register for an in-person class, unless you want to take an uncommon online class that is offered by a different institution. In that case, work with the registrar at each institution to dual enroll and receive credit.
Knowing how to manage your time well is key to succeeding in your online courses, as is avoiding the plethora of distractions offered by your home and the internet. Budget out time when you will only focus on your online coursework and download an app to keep yourself on task, if necessary. When submitting assignments, participating in a group chat, or emailing your professor, maintain a professional demeanor. You may be in your pajamas on your bed, but nobody else needs to know that!
Grades are often calculated similarly to the way they’re calculated for an in-person class. Your participation (logging into the platform and submitting your work on time) and your work combine to give you an overall grade. Since the class is online, professors may be sensitive to cheating. Your written work may be subjected to a plagiarism detector and your tests may be proctored by video. Though the techniques are different, online and in-person classes are mostly the same.