Should you register for an online class?

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By Kaylee Johnson
Campus News

When students choose classes for next semester there are a lots of factors to take into account. Online classes can seem very appealing; they are more far more flexible and portable than live classes. For new or returning students with tight schedules online classes may seem like their best option, but they are not for everyone.  According to The National Center for Education Statistics 5.4 million, or 1 in 4 students took at least one online class in 2012.

Technology is advancing and in many ways becoming the core of society, so it is not surprising that so many students are using it to advance their educations.  

One of the major differences between online classes and live classes is the amount of writing. If you are not accustomed to writing long essays every week, you would be better off in a live class. Although professors are in charge of online classes, they are not nearly as personal as live classes. Being forced to go to class a few times a week is motivating, and it keeps students on their toes. Lectures are meant to prepare students for midterms and finals. Students have to be highly devoted to reading their textbooks for online classes, because there is no verbal interaction.

Students who only take online classes will not have any real interaction with their classmates. Although lack of communication with fellow classmates does not seem like a big deal, it is. Not only can you help each other thrive in the classroom, but also build mutual friendships. According to UCLA’s annual national survey of incoming freshmen, a student’s time spent “hanging out with friends” has decreased by half since 1987. Social interaction is part of the college experience.

Online classes do have advantages, especially for people who do not procrastinate with assignments. I am currently taking a freshman seminar class online, and it is one of the best decisions I ever made. Instead of sitting through pointless lectures, I just electronically hand in one assignment a week. On the other hand, the mass media class I take online requires a lot of reading, and a fair amount of writing. If you think a hard class would be easier to take online, you are probably wrong. Without explanations and lectures, those tricky math equations seem trickier.

It’s vital to know how your brain works, and how you learn. Some students can excel in online classes, others fall behind. If you are good at comprehending dense reading and writing essays you may do fine in an online class. If you learn verbally and visually live classes would be better. Many college students have legitimate reasons to take online classes instead of live classes. In fact a 2014 study from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research revealed that 4.8 million college students were parents of dependent children in 2011.

Another big difference between online classes and live classes is the amount of educational resources. On virtually all college campuses there are libraries, professors with office hours, and computer labs. When you take an online class, it is important to make sure you have all the resources necessary to pass the course. Some of those things include Wi-Fi, a computer, the textbook for the course you are taking, and, most importantly, time.

Both online and live classes can provide enriching educational experiences for students.  As you choose your classes for next semester, keep your learning style in mind, and also your schedule. Ignore the stigma that online classes are easier than live classes. I would also advise fellow students to do research before you pick your classes. Guidance counselors have a way of pressuring students into classes they do not want;  it is okay to resist. There is no secret to survive college, you just have to stay grounded and go with the flow.