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10 Advantages to Taking Online Classes

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Find college advice for online students, including tips for picking a school, saving money, and studying hard.

Online College Rankings

The current challenges facing traditional colleges and universities, including higher tuition, budget cuts, and course shortages, have caused many students to search for alternatives. With nearly three million students currently enrolled in fully online degree programs and six million taking at least one online course as part of their degree program, online education has clearly become one of the most popular higher education alternatives. The continually improving reputation of online learning has also helped fuel its expansion, as initial skepticism has faltered in the face of evidence that shows that online learning can be just as effective as face-to-face education.

Top Featured Schools

Walden University

Walden can provide 100% online flexible programs for you to further your career.

Southern New Hampshire University

Whether you need a bachelor’s degree to get into a career or want a master’s degree to move up in your current career, SNHU has an online program for you.

Kaplan University

Kaplan University is a dedicated school in providing students with an innovative education. Kaplan is a student oriented program that focuses on students to teach them precious values needed in today’s ever changing society. Kaplan serves more than 66,000 online and on-campus students.

Capella University

Earn a Bachelor’s, Master’s or Doctorate degree 100% online in a convenient, affordable, and flexible setting. Save with Capella-sponsored grants and scholarships, transfer credits, military discounts, and more.

All of this means that students, from working professionals to recent high school graduates, find many reasons to take all or some of their courses online. Below are 10 advantages to online learning.

  1. Variety of programs and courses: From traditional four-year universities to completely online career colleges, higher education today offers a variety of options for students. This means that no matter what students wish to study, from nursing to neuroscience, they can find online the courses or degree programs they need. They can also earn every academic degree online, all the way from a career certificate to a doctorate.
  2. Lower total costs: Online programs can be a more affordable option than traditional colleges. Though not all online degrees have less expensive net tuition prices than traditional colleges (link to OEDB article I wrote about college costs), associated costs are almost always less expensive. For example, there are no commuting costs, and sometimes there is also not any required course materials such as textbooks because those are often available for free online. In addition, many colleges and universities have begun to accept credits earned via free massive open online courses (MOOCs), the most recent advance in online education. Free online courses such as these can help students fulfill general education requirements at little to no cost.
  3. More comfortable learning environment: Commercials that featuring online students studying in the pajamas only skim the surface of one of the primary benefits of online education: there are no physical class sessions. Lectures and other materials are electronically sent to the student, who will then read them and complete assignments. Students will not have to fight traffic, find parking spaces, leave work early to go to class, or miss important family time.
  4. Convenience and flexibility: Online courses give students the opportunity to plan their study time around the rest of their day, instead of the other way around. Students can study and work when they are at their peak energy, whether that’s early morning or late at night. Course material is always accessible online, so there’s no need to schedule special trips to a library either. college online free All of this makes online learning a good option for students who need to balance their work and family commitments.
  5. More interaction and greater ability to concentrate: While there is contradictory evidence about the rate of online student participation versus participation in traditional courses, one thing is certain: online courses offer shy or more reticent students the opportunity to participate in class discussions or chats with more ease than face-to-face class sessions. Some students even report that online courses are easier to concentrate in because they are not distracted by other students and classroom activity.
  6. Career advancement: Students can take online courses and even complete entire degrees while working, while in-between jobs, or while taking time to raise a family. This academic work will explain any discontinuity or gaps in a resume as well. Also, earning a degree can show prospective employers that you are ambitious and want to remain informed and prepared for any new challenges.
  7. Continue in your profession: Even if someone wants to complete a degree program, it doesn’t mean that they want to leave their current job. For most students today, college costs mean that it’s necessary to continue working while in school. The previously mentioned flexibility of online degree programs enable students to keep working while also pursuing academic credentials.
  8. Avoid commuting: During snowstorms and thunderstorms, colleges may cancel classes; if they don’t, you run the risk of getting hurt in dangerous driving conditions. Rather than miss important class sessions, students in online courses can always “attend” by participating on discussion boards or in chat sessions, turn in their work on time, and watch lectures or read materials. Many students also find that the amount they save on fuel costs can be substantial if they don’t have to commute to a physical campus in general, no matter what the weather conditions may be.
  9. Improve your technical skills: Even the most basic online course requires the development of new computer skills, as students learn to navigate different learning management systems (LMS) and programs. The skills students learn to participate in their online courses translate to many professions, including creating and sharing documents, incorporating audio/video materials into your assignments, completing online training sessions, etc.
  10. Transfer credits: For college students who want to attend summer classes, but who live too far from their colleges or have to work summer jobs, taking online classes from an accredited college and transferring the credits to their primary college is a good idea. Students will be able to earn college credit while still enjoying their summer vacation or fulfilling the responsibilities of their seasonal jobs. Similarly, if a college or university is unable to offer enough open sections of a required course, students can take the course online at another college and transfer the credits.

These are just a few of the many advantages of taking online classes. Students in online degree programs are able to manage their time, learn the materials that are presented, and complete assignments on their own schedules.

14 Best Sites for Taking Online Classes That'll Boost Your Skills and Get You Ahead

Looking to pick up a new skill, but don’t have the time to do so? Do you want to go back to school but need to take some classes beforehand? Or, do you not want to go to school at all, but are looking to change careers? We’ve got the answer for all those problems: online classes.

They’re shorter than a college semester, they’re typically self-regulated, and they cover just about every skill, topic, or hobby you can possibly imagine.

But with this luxury comes great responsibility—mainly, the task of finding a site that works best for you. Have no fear, we’ve done all the hard work for you and compiled the ultimate list of resources that offer free, cheap, and quality classes right here on the internet.

Now all you have to do is sign up for one!

ALISON has a large range of free, comprehensive classes on financial literacy, personal and soft skills, digital skills, entrepreneurship and then some. It targets all kinds of learners, from professionals and managers to teachers and freelancers.

Udemy has plenty to offer for the learner on a budget, from completely free courses taught by experts, professors, entrepreneurs, and professionals, to frequent discounts and class specials. In addition to classes in tech, business, and marketing, you can also explore options in productivity, health, hobbies, and lifestyle.

3. Coursera

If you want to receive a college education without the high cost of tuition, Coursera is the best stop. This website offers amazing courses in all kinds of fields, from professional development to psychology, history, and literature—all created and taught by professors at top institutions nationally and across the globe. Their universities include Princeton, Johns Hopkins, Stanford, and plenty more.

Just like Coursera, edX offers anyone, anywhere the chance to take university classes in various departments—and get certified. Some of their big partners include Harvard, Berkeley, Dartmouth, Georgetown, and the University of Chicago (and that’s not all!).

Udacity focuses on software development, offering free courses in programming, data science, and web development. The website also offers a nanodegree program for individuals who want to master a skillset or pursue a full-time career in tech.

By subscribing to Lynda, you’ll have access to thousands of courses in business, design, art, education, and tech. And it offers a free 10-day trial so you can test the waters!

7. General Assembly

General Assembly offers both online and in-person classes, as well as full-time and part-time options. It focuses mainly on digital skills, covering subjects such as digital marketing, iOS and Android development, data analytics, and JavaScript.

8. Skillshare

Skillshare provides “bite-sized” classes to learners who only have 15 minutes a day. It has over 500 free classes and several thousand premium classes to choose from in topics such as film, writing, tech, lifestyle, and more.

9. LearnSmart

LearnSmart’s orientated toward career development, which is why it’s a great place to learn about IT and security, project management, Office, HR, and business.

10. Codecademy

Codecademy wants to teach you how to, well, code—and for free. It covers all kinds of programming, including JavaScript, Ruby, HTML, CSS, and Python.

11. Pluralsight

After subscribing to Pluralsight (or using its free trial!), you’ll be able to explore classes in software, 3D development, VFX, design, game design, web design, and CAD software.

12. Adobe TV

Not sure how to use Photoshop or InDesign? Don’t worry, Adobe TV will walk you through all its programs with tutorials, manuals, and more.

13. FutureLearn

FutureLearn’s completely free, with classes taught by universities and special organizations. Its big topics are business and management, creative arts, law, health, politics, science, digital skills, sports and leisure, and teaching.

14. Academic Earth

And if you’re looking solely for academic classes, this website is perfect for you. It has courses in the arts, science, humanities, economics, computer science, and more, all for free.

How Do Online Classes Work?

Students unfamiliar with distance education may be asking themselves “How do online classes work?” The reality is that classes are laid out online much the same way they would be in a classroom, it’s just that students don’t have to travel to that classroom to take part. Here is a general overview of what students can expect when taking an online class, from getting started to the basics of completing assignments online.

Logging On. To get started with an online class, students will need a newer computer, a reliable internet connection and the software required by the school (usually just a word processor and internet browser.) Once these requirements have been met, students can start completing coursework. First, students will need to find the school’s main website and log on. This should take them to a place where they can see all the courses they’ve signed up for and allow them to view material related to each. Colleges will use different types of course management software (though Blackboard may be a popular choice), so each school’s format may differ. If you need any help navigating, contact your professor or technical support.

Listening to and Reading Lecture Material. Just as if you were in a regular classroom, your course will begin by listening to or reading lectures from your professor, which is usually recorded and uploaded onto the main site or presented as a text or slideshow document. Depending on the course, students may need to listen to or read lectures every day or just once or twice a week. Just like in any other class, students should be taking notes as they go.

Completing Assignments. Some assignments for class may need to be completed online. Students will usually be able to find a section on their course management software where these assignments can be found. Some will need to be completed online and some off. All will come with deadlines and students will need to make sure to upload or complete the work before the deadline if they want to get credit. Most courses will combine shorter assignments with a larger long-term assignment that will be due at the end of the semester, sometimes taking the place of a final exam. Students can also expect to be assigned reading material which they will find online or will need to purchase.

Engaging in Discussion. Nearly all online colleges will require students to engage in weekly discussions with the rest of the class, the professor or both. This may mean posting to a discussion board or participating in group chats held at a specific date and time. There may be a prompt for students to respond to or students may be asked to come up with their own discussion topics. It will vary by class and the preference of the professor.

Listening to and reading lectures, doing homework, handing in papers and talking with your peers– it doesn’t sound so different than any traditional class. In reality, the experience most students have with online education is very similar to attending courses on campus. If you have any questions about how your online school holds courses, ask administrators or check out their website to get a preview and familiarize yourself before you start taking classes.

In just 3 easy steps we will help you find the perfect online college you’ve been looking for.

Welcome to the edX blog

What are 5 Tips for Taking Online Classes?

Here at edX, we’re committed to providing our over 9.5 million global learners with access to high-quality online courses from the best universities and leading institutions in the world. As we continue to work with our partners to deliver courses that offer learners access to in-demand knowledge, we wanted to share with you some useful tips about taking online classes, like those offered on edX .

Here are five tips to help set you up for success when taking an online course:

  1. Have a clear motivation in mind – identify why you are taking the online class.The first step to success is to start by identifying the reasons for taking the course. Think about what you are looking to accomplish and what a successful result would be – whether it’s learning a new skill, advancing your career or enjoying the experience of learning something new. At edX, learners take courses to improve their lives, whether it is to get ahead in their careers, to help them find a job, to pursue a path towards higher education, or simply for personal enrichment.
  2. Set small, manageable goals.Set small goals throughout the course so there’s always something to work towards. By breaking a large project down into smaller, more manageable pieces of work, it often becomes easier to complete each piece and then move on to the next. You can also set goals regarding when you do your online course work. On edX, a lot of our courses are self-paced, which mean you can complete assignments and go through modules at your own speed, so you can set goals that fit your schedule and life.
  3. Sign up with a friend. A useful motivational tool is to sign up for an online course with a friend to help hold you accountable and to stay committed. Not only can you encourage each other to stay focused and finish the course together, you can also act as a helpful resource to each other when studying or discussing course content. You can even hold “study groups,” either online or in person, depending on location.
  4. Take your learning on the go.At edX, we encourage our learners to learn anytime and anywhere. Even though the course content lives entirely online, it can be helpful to complete coursework in a variety of locations. Moving from place to place reduces your chances of feeling bored and can help keep you feeling energized. A change of scenery from your home or the library to a coffee shop or a park can make a big difference to your motivation levels and help to keep you on track to successfully complete the online course.
  5. Have some skin in the game.Share your journey taking online courses with family and friends – either in person or on social media. By involving them in your endeavor, you’re more likely to feel motivated to make progress so you can share updates and answer their questions about learning online. Even paying for a certificate and putting some ‘financial’ skin in the game is motivation in itself, since there is now a financial incentive to help you get across the finish line. At edX, most of our courses are available for free and we also offer the option to pay for a Verified Certificate that you can use on your resume, CV or LinkedIn to showcase the skills and knowledge you gained from the course. If you pay for a course because you are confident that you’ll want to demonstrate the work you’ve done online to a current or future employer, then you’re more likely to hold yourself accountable to finish it.

A great place to start is the DemoX course on edX. it class online You can enroll in the course today and spend as much or a little time as you want exploring how online courses work on edX, with this interactive learning course.

EdX offers courses in a wide array of topics, from introductory courses to career-focused learning. View all online courses, enroll and start learning today!

So You Think You Want to Take Online Classes?

If you are a college student or if you are an adult who simply wants to become better educated, it’s a good time to take stock and to think about what you may need to do to be ready to jump into the virtual world of online learning.

Online opportunities for learning and for earning college degrees have become pervasive in the last 10 years. Most two- and four-year colleges now offer online options. For-profit colleges that exist solely online now offer both undergraduate and graduate degrees.

Consortiums such as Coursera, a tech company that partners with universities worldwide, offer non-degree oriented, free classes for people who simply want to learn new things. This is a sea change in education.

And yet… Only 50 percent of students who register for online classes succeed. (This is compared to an average of 70 percent of students in traditional campus classes.) It’s not because those who fail aren’t smart. It’s not because they don’t have good intentions. Research has identified factors that have more to do with a student’s psychology than intelligence. My own experience as a teacher of online classes leads me to the same conclusion.

If you are considering taking online courses and want to be in the 50 percent who make it through (and with good grades), here are at least some of the variables that make a difference:

Be realistic about what you are taking on.

There seems to be a myth among at least some students that online classes are easier than campus classes. Generally they aren’t. You are signing on to wrestle with new material, to master new skills, or to increase your own knowledge base. A good online class will be as challenging as any course you’ve taken in a brick building.

Be realistic about your reality.

Most online students are adults with adult lives. That means families, jobs, and complicated schedules. Be sure you really have the time and energy to put eight to 10 hours a week into reading, researching and responding. Often the students who have had to drop my class have found it overwhelming to fit class work into already over-stressed lives. One man who did very well for the first few weeks found to his dismay that he had underestimated the effect of a new baby in the house. The needs of the baby and his need for sleep overwhelmed his ability to focus on the class.

Whatever your good intentions and optimism, there are only so many hours in a day and you only have so much energy. Before writing the check to take a class, be sure you can fit it into your schedule.

Be realistic about your own motivation and maturity.

Online learning requires that you “show up” and show up regularly. Often you will be responsible for making submissions that other students need in order to keep a discussion going. Since there is no set time to participate in class, it’s easy to let a day or two or four go by because of other obligations. That’s a setup for failure.

More than a few of my students have fallen by the wayside due to major issues with procrastination. If you procrastinate and get behind, it becomes harder and harder to get caught up. If you are irresponsible about doing your share of group work or getting assignments done on time, you risk alienating your classmates and annoying your teacher, who doesn’t have the time or the responsibility to chase you.

Be realistic about your time management skills.

Succeeding online means logging in every day or at least 5 days a week. It means doing the reading so you can do the assessments and assignments. It means taking the time to participate in the class discussions. Students in my classes who succeed treat the online course very much like a part-time job. They set aside regular, predictable time to do the work. They keep a calendar to make sure they meet deadlines and immediately do makeup work if they had to be “absent” for a day.

Be realistic about your willingness to engage with others.

Ironically, your professor and classmates will get to know you online at least as well, and often better, than if you were sitting together in class. Campus students can be virtually invisible by not volunteering in class. Online learning requires that you be out there, visible and engaged. Success comes to those who post regularly, who show that they have thought hard about the readings, and who contribute novel and interesting ideas to discussions.

Success also comes from encouraging others, from asking good questions, and from being willing to be challenged. When people engage in discussions without attacking others and without being defensive about their own contributions, discussions can be very rich and meaningful. One of my classes only requires three posts a week. The students who do best in terms of mastering the material are often showing up 10 – 12 times, sometimes with just a word or two of encouragement for a classmate, sometimes with a new insight into the material, sometimes with an anecdote from their own life that highlights something we’re talking about. These are the students who breathe life into the class. Often they are also the students who truly master the course.

Be realistic about your skill with words.

For now, at least, online learning generally requires communicating well in writing. “Discussions” are all by posts. online sql training Group work is through written chats within the class. Your words represent you. Poor grammar, spelling mistakes, rambling prose, or confusing paragraphs will get in the way of success, no matter how good your ideas may be. Teachers and peers don’t have the energy and patience to decipher your meaning. If you aren’t confident about your ability to communicate well in writing, it would be wise to get a tutor to help you hone your skills before tackling a course online. Another option is to first take an online course in expository writing.

Be realistic about your skill on a computer.

If you aren’t a reasonably competent typist, if you don’t know your way around Word or have difficulty learning how to navigate a platform, you’ll quickly become frustrated with the whole enterprise. Frustrated people tend to get anxious and annoyed. Often they fall behind and then get so discouraged they drop out. And please: Don’t do as one of my students did and ask your mother to do your typing. He often lost points because she didn’t have time to be his typist when he had deadlines. More to the point, it made me question who was really writing the responses.

It’s a new world. I fully expect that the boundaries between campus and online learning will continue to blur as an inevitable outcome of technological advances. The best online students are those who find it exciting to be on the cutting edge of change and who engage in class with curiosity and enthusiasm. As for me, I thoroughly enjoy getting to know my online students and watching them stretch and grow through their interactions with the materials and with the class.

6 Things to Consider Before Taking Online Classes at Another Institution

Make sure taking online courses at another institution doesn’t become an administrative mess.

By Bradley Fuster , Contributor | Nov. 13, 2015, at 10:00 a.m.

Start by getting permission from your academic department and checking enrollment policies. (Hill Street Studios)

​Students who fall behind or want to accelerate in school may opt to enroll in online classes at another institution during the academic year, or over the winter and summer breaks. As a department chair and adviser, I have unfortunately seen students become tangled in an administrative mess by doing this.

Consider these following six tips before enrolling in an online class at another institution.

1. Get permission: Many institutions have policies that require students to seek permission to study “off-campus” prior to enrollment. These policies are usually in place to protect the student from taking a class they assume will satisfy a requirement but actually might not.

In many cases, it is the academic department chair of the home institution that can make the course equivalency determination. It is wise to ask in advance. Some institutions have a list of pre-established course equivalencies.

2. Check concurrent enrollment policies: If a student has full-time matriculated status, they should check their institution’s concurrent enrollment policy before enrolling in an online class at another institution. Due to federal data reporting standards, it gets confusing when a full-time matriculated student at one institution also becomes a part-time non-matriculated student at another institution.

Therefore, students usually must seek approval of an administrator prior to concurrently enrolling in another institution. Without prior approval, the home institution might not count the credits earned toward degree completion.

3. Investigate financial aid implications: If a student receives financial aid at his or her home institution, he or she is usually ineligible to receive financial aid from a second institution during concurrent enrollment.

This means that the student often must pay tuition out of pocket for the additional online course work. Typically, the only exception is if a student is enrolled in an established dual-enrollment program.

4. Pay attention to time management: Time management for students in online course work is always important. However, if a student is attending one institution while taking online courses at another institution, there is an even greater need to manage time effectively. Neither institution will likely be sympathetic to the plight of a student enrolled in multiple places.

5. Expect cultural and logistical differences: Even in an online environment, differences between institutions become apparent. Students will be subject to two different sets of policies, software platforms, catalogs, codes of conduct, grading systems, library access procedures, semester breaks and cultural norms. Students must work to plan for and embrace such differences.

6. State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements: SARA is a voluntary standards program designed to make it easier for students to take postsecondary online courses at institutions across its participating states, districts and territories.

If a student plans to enroll in a second institution located in a different state than where they reside, it is wise to visit the SARA website.

The takeaway: Students who wish to take online courses at a different institution than where they attend should do their homework in advance to ensure the time, effort, and money they spend provides them with maximum benefit.

What I Wish Someone Told Me BEFORE Taking Online Classes

One in four students now takes courses online—either as a part of an entirely online program, or mixed in with on-campus classes.

The perks of taking online classes are numerous. They offer additional flexibility for busy students, especially for those balancing school with work and family. They can attract professionals looking for career advancement, parents seeking to better provide for their families and returning students looking to pick up where they left off. Plus, many courses let you work comfortably at your own direction.

If you’ve never taken one before, you may not know what to expect. How do online classes work? Are online classes harder? What are some tips for taking online classes?

Learn from those who have been in your shoes. Keep reading to see get some insider knowledge about what to expect when taking classes online.

7 Things you should know before taking online classes

You’re not the first to have questions about taking classes online, and you certainly won’t be the last. But there are some insightful lessons you can learn from those who have succeeded in online classes. Here are seven things they wish they had known before embarking on their online learning journey.

1. Online classes are not the ‘easy’ route

One of the most common questions asked on this topic is, “Are online classes easier?” Put simply, the answer is no.

Opting for online courses over traditional courses is not the easy route for your education. It’s true that online courses offer you the flexibility to learn in your own time and space, but that doesn’t change the amount of work you put in. You still have the same amount of work—just without the formal classroom setting.

The flexibility of online classes can be extremely helpful to busy students, but that same freedom also creates additional pressures on those enrolled. The ball is in your court—meaning it’s up to you to avoid distractions and keep yourself on track.

“My advice to students looking at online classes is to be informed about the demands of an online course. Understand that not all online classes allow you to get the work done on your own time. creative writing class online Instead, this is heavily dependent on the other students taking the course,” says Chandni Mistry of ChoYou. “If you’re looking for less work, then I would suggest looking somewhere else.”

2. You may actually do better in online classes

Students participating in online classes do the same or better than those in the traditional classroom setup. This is because the quality of education is the same; the difference is just in the delivery. And other studies show that students taking courses online score better on standardized tests.

Online lectures are a great option if you tend to feel lost in the crowd of a classroom. They give you the ability to pause and take thorough notes or even re-watch parts you didn’t quite understand the first time. Plus, you can always reach out to your professor through a message to ask questions about material you didn’t understand.

3. You’re going to need the technology AND the support to be successful

Your online class will most likely be accessed through a personal computer or tablet. Our online course veterans recommend taking some time to become acquainted with the platform and utilize any orientation materials prior to class. Having a reliable internet connection and operating system is also crucial to staying on top of your work. You’ll also want to make sure that your school has the resources to support distance learners.

“Make sure to ask about IT support. How effective are they and how quickly can they resolve situations? Are they familiar with walking you through steps of the basic software requirements for your course work? Do they have tutorials to help you adjust for margins, page setup and similar?” suggests Montgomery Beyer of iKiBos.

4. You can make or break it with time management

It’s your responsibility to take the initiative to keep up with your work when enrolled in online classes. It can be easy to let assignments slide and miss due dates because of the wiggle room and flexibility that come with online courses.

Procrastination is a slippery slope and can affect your grade negatively. It’s important to stay organized and follow a schedule because it’s difficult to catch up once you fall behind.

Many students underestimate the amount of time they’ll spend studying for class. You should expect online courses to take about the same amount of time as traditional courses.

“I wish there were resources to help you schedule your time while taking an online class. I didn’t know that there would still be strict deadlines in many of the courses, so although you’re not meeting during class time, a lot of scheduling and planning still has to be done for the course,” says Gianna Sollitt of Newberry Public Relations & Marketing.

“I thought initially that online classes would just let you submit everything on your own time, but most are not like that.”

5. Don’t think you’re exempt from group projects

Just because your course is online doesn’t mean that you’ll be exempt from group projects. This staple of the traditional classroom is becoming easier and easier for distance learners to tackle too. With collaborative tools like Google Docs making it easier for groups to work together, don’t be surprised if you find yourself assigned to a group project in your online course.

“I didn’t know that professors would still assign group work in online courses. online study Students should definitely know that they’re not exempt from group work simply because they’re in an online course,” says Sollitto. “Before enrolling in an online course, I couldn’t fathom how a group could possibly work together completely remotely on assignments. A lot has to be done using Google Docs or other file sharing services like it.”

6. You’ll want to make an effort to make connections

One of the benefits of going to school is the amount of people it puts you in contact with. Friendships, mentorships and networking can all come from academic experiences—but is that still the case with online classes?

“Online degrees can be less personable. You can go through multiple online classes without really connecting to anyone. It’s easy to miss out on all the networking opportunities and friendships that on-campus classes can provide,” says Lyn Alden of Lyn Alden Investment Strategy. “I would recommend that you really make an effort to get to know some of your online classmates or your professor.”

Alden says she encourages students to reach out and discuss assignments—and even meet in person with classmates and instructors if you’re close by.

“Online platforms are getting more and more advanced, and provide increasing ways to interact and network online. But you still have to be more proactive than you would in a classroom setting, and make the first move to reach out to people,” Alden says.

7. Get excited for online classes!

“I wished I would have known how awesome the experience was,” says attorney, author and advocate Alexis Moore.

“Traditional school is stressful in comparison to online education because of the precious time wasted for students: the drive to and from class, finding a seat and the endless distractions. So much is involved just getting to the classroom, whereas online you are in your own environment, safe from germs and the stress of driving. Online classes save you so much time that you can never get back.”

Moore, who obtained her undergraduate and law degrees online, enjoyed the convenience and time saving aspects of online education. She also thought they allowed her to learn more effectively.

“The education is more effective and efficient because you can interact with professors more comfortably. You can choose whether to send them a private message or to speak aloud to ask a question during class.”

Is online the right option for you?

Taking online classes may be a departure from the traditional classroom, but it’s definitely a change for the better. This option brings the experience straight to you, allowing you to work at your own pace to make a better life for you and your family. Best of all, taking online classes lets you integrate your studies into your schedule at your convenience.

Now that you’ve learned the ins and outs of taking online classes, does it sound like something you’d be interested in? Check out this article to see if you have what it takes to succeed: “7 Signs You’re Ready to Be an Online Student.”

This piece of ad content was created by Rasmussen College to support its educational programs. Rasmussen College may not prepare students for all positions featured within this content. Please visit www.rasmussen.edu/degrees for a list of programs offered. External links provided on rasmussen.edu are for reference only. Rasmussen College does not guarantee, approve, control, or specifically endorse the information or products available on websites linked to, and is not endorsed by website owners, authors and/or organizations referenced. Rasmussen College is a regionally accredited private college and Public Benefit Corporation.

Kristina Ericksen

Kristina is a Content Marketing Specialist at Collegis Education who researches and writes content on behalf of Rasmussen College. She hopes her content helps enlighten and engage students through all stages of their education journeys.

7 Things You May Not Know About Taking Online Courses

Online Learning In today's world, online schools are becoming more common. Here are seven reasons why enrolling in an online school could be right for you.

What’s the deal with online high schools? Virtual schools are everywhere, but most people aren’t telling you the real reasons to try them. Here are the top seven things that you may not know about learning online.

1. Online courses are ready when you are

Taking online high school classes means you work when, where and how you want. Not an early bird? Log in at noon — your English class is ready for you. Have plans tonight? Log in to get some work done when you get home — your math class is always open. Schedule flexibility is one reason so many students and families are taking their high school classes online.

2. Online classes can help you graduate early

By taking additional credits alongside their high school work, some students can graduate early. This means more time to pursue what you love. Maybe you want to work more hours or start college sooner. Perhaps you’re the youngest professional tennis player ever and you need more time to practice. Take some online classes and you can work towards earning your high school diploma and graduating as soon as you’re ready.

3. Online does not mean working alone

It’s not the 90s anymore — online learning doesn’t happen in an isolated, underground computer lab. When you take an online high school class, you join a community of learners. There is a real teacher, real students to collaborate with and clubs and activities to take part in. This connection can feel deeper than traditional courses. In an online school, much of the teaching is done one-on-one, it’s all about you.

4. You can boost your GPA

Many online schools offer Advanced Placement, Honors and even dual enrollment or concurrent enrollment college-level courses. These can give your GPA the boost it needs to be competitive for college. If your local school doesn’t offer these courses, online high schools may be a way to get weighted credit that can help your GPA.

5. Online learning means you won’t be held back

Everyone makes mistakes. Before online high school classes, failing a class could have meant being held back. Now, by re-taking that dreaded class online, you may be able to replace the course you failed without having to repeat it at school.

6. Online learning helps students figure out how the adult world works

Much of adult life happens online. Including banking, interviews and even remote work. Students who take online classes learn how to navigate unfamiliar situations and working environments. microbiology online course Taking a virtual high school course means that you’ve got a jump start on adult life — it’s an online class benefit that they don’t tell you about.

7. Get a head start toward college

Want to get ahead of the competition when it comes to college admission? Start college courses while you’re still in high school. A few online high schools offer dual enrollment courses, allowing you to receive college credit from a local community college. You don’t have to drive to your local campus to get the benefits. These university courses count for high school and college credit. Completing them will prove to any college admissions staff that you’re ready for the challenge. They will also save you time and money when you arrive on campus.

While online learning isn’t for everyone, taking even a few virtual high school courses can help you catch up, get ahead and jump start your GPA.

10 Advantages of Taking Online Classes

Written by Chris Blake

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In recent years, with a struggling economy, more people are enrolling in online courses in hopes of advancing their careers or earning a degree in an alternative field. The benefits of taking online classes are numerous and a degree from an online institution can be just as valuable as one granted by a traditional college or university.

Lower Costs

Although tuition for some online programs can be as expensive as traditional colleges, going the online route can significantly cut the cost of your overall college in other areas. Since you learn online and from the comfort of your own home, you won’t need to buy school supplies, pay for room and board or worry about things such as meal plans. Most materials are also available for download, saving money on expensive texts and workbooks.

Less Pressure

Taking a class online means that you can read and learn the material and do the work on your own time. Doing course work on your own means less pressure to keep up with other students in the class since you’ll be working individually rather than in a group. Online courses usually provide deadlines for assignments, so with proper time management and organization skills, you don’t need to worry about how well or efficiently other students are doing in their work.


You can complete online classes regardless of external conditions, personal commitments or those unexpected life incidents. Hop online at any time and check out what assignment is due next or what chapters you need to read. With the flexibility of online classes, you can prioritize your time and work on your own pace.

Skill Development

Not only can online courses increase your knowledge in a particular subject area, but they can teach lessons invaluable to other areas of your life. Online classes leave you on your own, without a physical classroom to attend and a teacher constantly prodding you to get your work done and keep your grades up. Self-discipline and commitment skills go a long way in successfully completing online classes.

Individual Instruction

Since you’ll be working individually on your school assignments, you’ll have individual access to your professor via email and other online media. Direct access means that you have the ability to ask more personalized questions that you might be intimidated to ask in a traditional classroom setting.

Networking Opportunities

Individual instruction does not mean that you will be completely isolated from the students also enrolled in your online class. These courses generally include message boards, which give you the opportunity to discuss your work and make connections with other students — no matter where they are located. This can prove invaluable as it provides insight and different perspectives on the same assignment. Most importantly, you have full control over the amount of exposure you have to the other students.

Courses online allow the opportunity to take a class at a college or university that you may not have realistic access to geographically. Whether you live on the East Coast and want to take a class offered on the West Coast or you travel extensively and want to continue your education, you don’t need to be in a specific location to access an online course.

Online classes don’t require a dress code, so if you wake up in the morning and feel like lounging around in your PJs or favorite sweats, go for it. Doing your work while lying on the couch watching your favorite soaps beats sitting in a hard seat under artificial lighting next to the kid who didn’t shower after partying all night.

Specialized Degree Programs

Most online degree programs do not require you to take electives. This allows you to take the minimum number of classes needed to graduate with the knowledge necessary to be successful in your chosen field of study. This saves time, cuts out classes that you’re not interested in taking and allows you to focus more on the classes you want to take.

Transferring Credits

If you are enrolled in a traditional college or university but are unable to schedule a certain class that you need to graduate, most online programs allow you to take a class and transfer the credit. This can prove invaluable if a class is a prerequisite for graduation and isn’t offered by your more traditional school.

Are online classes for you?

Prepare yourself to e-learn with this advice from online instruction experts.

Chances are you’ll take an online course within the next five years, whether you’re supervised via Skype for a clinical class or taking an elective at a university three states away. In fact, online course enrollments are growing by 12.9 percent a year, while the higher education student population is growing at 1.2 percent, according to a report by the Sloan Foundation.

“There are now even online courses in piano tuning and phlebotomy,” says Babson College statistician I. Elaine Allen, PhD, who co-wrote the report.

But while e-learning courses are gaining in number, not every student is prepared to learn that way. Faculty who teach online frequently encounter students who come to class with the misperception that online is easier, that they can participate Twitter-style or proceed at their own pace. In reality, most online courses require stronger organizational skills and more self-discipline than traditional courses, as well as polished academic writing skills. Many online courses also maintain a rigorous schedule of biweekly or daily homework postings and group discussion requirements that can cripple procrastinators.

“We’ve found that students who take online courses need to be very self-motivated,” says Allen.

If you’re bound for cyberschool, consider these tips from e-learning professionals:

Remember it’s school, not Facebook. The Internet is a source of fun and leisure for many, so some students find it difficult to treat it as a classroom. Case in point: In many courses fifth-year graduate student Bill MacLaney is taking at Capella University, the instructors pose one or two questions a week. MacLaney says he spends 15 to 20 hours researching and writing each answer.

And unlike traditional essay-writing, responses posted on class discussion boards can be viewed by fellow students, says Nicholas Ladany, PhD, a professor at Lehigh University. So, keep your tone respectful, personal anecdotes to a minimum and your prose typo-free, he says. “Re-read everything you write before you post it,” he says.

Have a Plan B when technology fails. While “the computer ate my homework” excuses sometimes work in traditional courses, faculty who teach online have far less tolerance for technology-related pretexts from students. They all should have up-to-date computers, software and browsers, as well as backup plans for getting online if a virus attacks or there’s a power failure. “Recently, a fellow classmate was in a flood in North Dakota and didn’t miss a post,” says MacLaney.

Ladany suggests students talk with a tech expert before they start a course for tips on what to do if their computer freezes just before a deadline or how to back up their work if they don’t already know how.

Know your learning style. Most online courses require a shift to learning independently, says Sue Kuba, PhD, of the California School of Professional Psychology at Alliant.

“These classes don’t work well for students who prefer to sit in a class and be taught and take notes,” she says. So, consider how well you learn on your own and read a course’s syllabus in advance to get a sense of whether you’ll be organized and disciplined enough to do well, Kuba advises.

If you suspect you aren’t quite ready, try easing into e-education by taking a hybrid or “Web-assisted” course that uses some online features but also includes classroom meetings. You might also see if your university offers online instruction in real time, called “course capture systems,” which are more like traditional classroom experiences with videos of lectures and online assignments, says Kuba.

Plan to keep up. The flexibility of many online classes may lead some students to procrastinate and fall behind. “If you miss something one week, begin the next week fresh with the current postings,” says MacLaney. “Then you’re only late on one thing, rather than 10 or 15 as the semester rolls on.”

Trust you’re not alone. Many students fear that online classes are socially isolating. In truth, say faculty, these classes require every student to participate through posts and group discussions—not always the case in traditional classes. As a result, students—and faculty—often develop close camaraderie.

“In the regular classroom, I can’t know every thought or observe every group, but online I can look into every discussion group for information on how they are doing,” says University of Minnesota educational psychology department lecturer Michelle Everson, PhD.

Value your hard-working professor. A common misperception among students, and even administrators, is that teaching online classes is easy money, says Allen. In fact, many faculty say it takes longer to prepare to teach an online course, and they spend more time keeping up with students’ questions and postings.

“Faculty say they do it because they meet students’ needs for flexible learning,” she says. “Money is way down there.”

Kuba, who teaches a graduate-level history and systems of psychology course online and face-to-face, concurs that the “e” doesn’t stand for easy. “In my experience, faculty work harder in online courses,” she says.

Similarly, students shouldn’t expect less attention than they’d get in a brick-and-mortar class, says Ladany. A good class means plenty of faculty interaction, regardless of the venue, he says.

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