A lot of posts exist online about the “pros and cons” of taking online classes.  However, these posts seem to be just full of generic information and do not give an actual student’s perspective, but rather a list of common sense facts. For example, one site says you will “experience benefits of learning new technologies and practicing the use of the Internet” … a joke.  So, since I have taken both online and traditional classes I thought I would give an actually useful student’s perspective.

 

How online classes usually work:

If you don’t know, online classes are usually taught through some sort online program, most likely blackboard or a MyMathLab type of thing.  Depending on the class, the teacher will usually post a long written version of their lecture for that week’s topic that you then have to read on your computer screen (which can be a pain on the eyes if the teacher rambles on.)  The rest of the class is just reading the entire text book and doing a lot of studying and homework.  The homework load seems to exceed the amount I have had in my traditional classes, it is as if the teacher is trying to make up for you not learning from real lectures.

 

Pros: 

You do not have to physically go to the class every other day.

If you are busy, you can do the class work on your own schedule.

They allow you to have an overall more open schedule.

They are great for classes that are review or classes that you believe will be easy.

You can move at your own pace (although, most teachers give out the assignments weekly, so you could not just do all the work in a month and be done with the class.)

Good for classes you do not care too much about, but still have to get over with.

Good for classes where you believe the lecture will just repeat what the book is telling you.

Tests are online.  That means they are open book, open note, and open Google search.

 

Cons:

They are less personal, and (in my opinion) harder to actually learn the subject.

In my experience they involve a lot more work, so they aren’t particularly “time savors.”

Not good for math, science, language or classes that you think you’ll need real lectures to understand.

Not good for visual or audio learners.

If you ask a teacher a question it may take them 2-3 days to respond.

It’s A LOT easier to procrastinate.

You are not really engaged in learning.

There is more reading to make up for the lack of lecture.

They are more tempting to drop.

 

I have taken four online classes now, at of only 11 classes total in college. I found that it is easier for me to take classes online just because I live a half an hour drive away from my college; however, I prefer traditional classes a lot more.  I only suggest taking classes online if you know the subject well and think the traditional class will be easy for you to understand. For example, if you are retaking an algebra class you had in High School or getting an English prerequisite at of the way.  Again, this is only my experience from taking four online classes; so, don’t base your decision of taking an online class solely off of this post. I would suggest reading the page about online classes on your college’s website and asking people from your own college about their experiences.