Things to Look for in an Online Course

Taking an online course for the first time can be intimidating, but the flexibility of these fast-growing programs often makes them appealing to busy students.   Just like in a traditional course, not all online classes are designed the same.  Before you choose to take an online class, you should assess whether it is a good fit for you and your lifestyle.  The following tips can help you in your decision-making process.

Check the Technology Requirements

Most online classes have minimum system requirements you must meet in order to access the course.  Make sure that you have all of the required software, logins, and a reliable Internet connection before you decide to take the course.  Sometimes the cost of meeting the technology requirements outweighs the benefits of taking the course online.

Read the Syllabus

Make yourself a schedule of assignments and exams from the course syllabus, and match this schedule to your personal commitments.  It is important to find out if there are designated times in which you must complete your work.  It is common for online educators to make an assignment available for a short period, in which you are required to complete it within a small time frame.   Also note if there are any required check-in times, whether it be for a class discussion or online lecture. 

See What Past Students Think

Even when online educators outline out all of their expectations before the class begins, there can still be some unexpected surprises.  Find out as much information as you can by checking websites that rate educators and by asking students who have previously taken the course.  You will be able to discover the instructor’s communication style and expectations before doing any work, which will be an invaluable tool in deciding if the class is right for you.

Online classes are often the only education option for working professionals, but students should first make sure they can be managed in an already hectic schedule.  By taking in past students’ opinions, the college’s technical requirements, and the instructor’s expectations, you should be able to make an informed decision on which courses will best meet your needs.

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