Types of Classes You Should and Shouldn’t Take Online

By Christine Ascher on July 8, 2018

Online classes are a great alternative to traditional classroom-style learning, and they’re perfect for a student who needs more flexibility in their schedule, is far from campus, or just wants to enjoy the convenience of class from their computer. However, despite their general popularity, some courses are better suited to being taken online than others. Before you sign up for an online course, make sure you take the time to consider whether or not that type of class would lend itself to being taken online—you can use this list to help you decide!

Laptop, Student, Homework

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Opt for Online If:

The Class Fits Your Interests

One of the major struggles that can come with taking an online course is trying to stay motivated to pay attention to lectures and to complete all of your coursework on time when you don’t have a professor holding you accountable and don’t have to sit in a classroom during class time. As a result, your chances for success will be increased if you take an online course in a subject that truly interests you, as that way you’ll be more likely to have the necessary self-motivation to focus and study hard. If you find the course material boring to begin with, there’s a good chance that you’ll lose interest throughout the duration of the course, and you may struggle to stay on track. For this reason, it’s a good idea to reserve some classes that you’re excited about to take online.

You Have a Lot of Independent Work

Though you can still connect with your classmates online when taking an online course, it can be more difficult to coordinate group work and projects when you’re not all in the same place at the same time. Being able to work independently will in some ways be an advantage, as you won’t have to worry about whether or not your classmates are getting their share of the work done without you. In addition, if you choose to take an online course so you don’t have to commute to campus, you probably won’t want to be driving all the way to campus just for a group project, so to ensure that you maintain the convenience that you’re looking for, try to find a class that allows you to work on your own most of the time.

You Know the Subject Well

Having to go sit in a classroom every day when you’re able to pick up on the course material faster than your classmates can be frustrating, so if you feel like you want to set your own pace in a course, it can be helpful to take it online. Often with online courses you’ll be able to speed through topics you understand well and slow down for others as necessary, so if you feel like you’d be bored sitting through a classroom and learning material at your professor’s pace, taking that course online can be a great alternative.

Avoid an Online Course If:

You Struggle with the Subject

While it’s not necessarily true that you’ll receive less assistance from your professor in an online course than you typically would, it will likely still be harder for you to do well in a course taken online if you already know that you have trouble with the subject or specific topic. Though you’ll still be able to email your professor with questions, you may not have the opportunity to ask your questions as they arise—that is, while your professor explains it in a video or when you’re going over course materials on your own.

The Subject Matter Can Be Dry

One of the benefits of online classes—their flexibility—can also be a major downside if you decide to take a class covering a topic that is dry or unexciting by nature. Taking an online course means that you can set your own schedule, and you may find that it’s difficult to motivate yourself to complete the necessary coursework if you don’t have a set class time. In addition, you may not have the help of your professor or classmates to keep things interesting and to help make a dry subject matter become more exciting. If you take the class while you’re at home alone, it can seem even more difficult to get through.

You Want to Study for It with Classmates

While you can still meet up with your classmates for an online course, it may be more difficult to get to know them, and therefore hard to determine who would make a good study buddy. In addition, not all of your classmates for an online course may be nearby, so it may be inconvenient for them to meet up to study together. If you feel like you’d really benefit by having a study group for a certain class, it may be better to stick to a traditional classroom-style course, so it’s easier for you to form that group.

Online courses can have major advantages, but you’ll have to choose them carefully to ensure that you benefit from the convenience and independence they bring. Before you register for classes, make sure that you take into account these factors!

By Christine Ascher

Uloop Writer
Hi! I'm Christine and I'm currently a senior at the University of Southern California, where I study English Literature, Economics, and French.

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