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Pros and Cons of Taking an Online Course

Pros and Cons of Taking an Online Course

Are you nervous about taking an online class because you don’t know what to expect and think it’ll be too hard? As you might find online courses convenient to take with a busy schedule, there are some misconceptions about online classes. Like most things, there are several pros and cons on what you should look for when taking an online course.

It might not be for you. But don’t let that discourage you from trying it out. There are over 400 courses that are available to students in the spring and fall semesters. Here’s a list to help decide if taking an online is worth it for you.

PROS:

Flexible scheduling

Students with a busier schedule usually lean toward taking online courses, because you can work around your own schedule. This gives students opportunities who still want an education but are on a tight schedule to still get classes out the way.

You would have to plan out the days to complete your discussions, quizzes and assignments. But you can do it anytime you want, just make sure you don’t past the deadline.

Doing work at home.

Photo by Green Chamelon.

Becoming a student or returning to college with a family, full-time job or other personal things can be stressful. MTSU ranks #1 for being the largest adult degree completion program in the state of Tennessee. With the flexibility of online courses, there’s options for everyone to meet individual needs and interests.  

Being organized

Unlike traditional classes, there is a consistent class time to attend every day for each week, but for online courses, students have to find a way that would keep them on top of their game. This is when a planner or Google Calendar comes in handy so you could make note of the due dates of assignments or tests and check it off as completed when you finish.

Since all of the assignments  are online, this forces you to be more tech savvy and organizing the materials or navigating the materials digitally.

Work from Home

It’s hard to get out of bed and get ready for class…but even for someone who has to commute to school, sometimes it’s nice to save some gas and work from home. Besides you wouldn’t have to worry about any weather conditions that may occur.

If you want to lounge around in your PJs all day since there aren’t any physical class sessions, you can. If you want to lie on the couch while watching a lecture, you can. Students who take online classes have a more comfortable learning environment and can work at any time of the day whether if that’s early morning or late nights in their bed.

A woman reading in bed with a cup of coffee.

Photo by Anthony Tran.

The biggest perk would be not worrying about traffic, trying to find parking or rushing to get to work. Online classes saves you time and gives you a chance to get the work hours if needed. And if you’re an introvert, you wouldn’t have to worry about interacting with other students.  So, if that is something you agree on but still want to take the course then try taking it online.

Get Ahead of the Curve

Online classes give you an opportunity to work ahead. Most online courses will set out all of the assignments and make it available for you throughout the whole semester. The amount of work might seem a lot but you’ll be able to knock out those assignments if you want to work ahead.

Also, it’s nice to finish all your assignments and focus on those classes you have on campus. Just take advantage of finishing assignments early so you won’t get overwhelmed later in the semester when you’re cramming for finals.

CONS:

Not an “easy” route

There’s no room to slack and take the assignments lightly because there won’t be any extra credit work offered in online classes. Students might think that online courses are an “easy” route, but that assumption is false. Although it’s easy to work in your own time, that doesn’t change the amount of work that is assigned. You could be spending more time reading chapters from the textbook or reviewing online lectures versus listening to your professor deliver them.

You can become more independent and it’ll require you to find your own path to learning. It’s just as challenging, if not more because you get to learn everything on your own. Plus, learning how to juggle the coursework time that needs to be put in.

Self-discipline

You might have freedom with an online course, but students struggle with doing their work on their own because of the lack of self-motivation. Since online classes are self-directed, be prepared to take on full responsibility on when to turn in your assignments.

Taking an online class helps gain responsibilities and self-discipline because you would have to keep yourself on track along with balancing out your personal life. Also, you’ll be able to develop a stronger work ethic since no one will remind you to do an assignment or tell you any due dates unlike your classes on campus.

If you are still struggling with time management or a particular subject, feel free to ask for help through MTSU’s free tutoring services in the Office of Student Success.

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Jim Carey answer prayers compares to an average college student procrastinating on a paper. Photo by Bruce Almighty

Time Management

Time management is important overall for college students, but when taking an online class, you are required to manage your time in a fashion where you don’t miss or forget the due dates. One of the hardest things for college students is getting off track and forgetting a quiz or discussion is due. It’s easier to procrastinate when enrolled in online classes because of the flexibility.

Taking classes on campus could take up a lot of time by sitting through a lengthy lecture, so the advantage of taking the course online would make it much easier if you miss a day of class. You could read the chapters online and come back to it at a convenient time. Plus you could use all of the resources available to you when you take a quiz or test.

If you’re struggling with this skill, this would be a good opportunity to strengthen the skill since you can’t put off your work last minute. You’ll be able to realize how important doing your work on time or ahead will affect your performance in an online class. This will make you work harder since your success in the course depends on you.

No Interactions/Hard Communication

There’s very little social engagement with online classes. This could either good or bad, depending on the person. Some students learn better in a virtual setting than in a classroom, but for some it could be more distracting. It’s hard to build a friendship or connection with online classes. Use your resources and participate actively in discussions, and you might find yourself reaching out for a more personal experience. It’ll just be more difficult, but not impossible.

A person typing away on their laptop.

Photo by John Schnobrich.

It’s harder to communicate back and forth with students or your professor because of the limited communication. Everything will be handled through technology via email or text. So, the one-on-one time with your professor that you get with traditional classes is less likely to happen with your online class.

So, is taking an online course for you? Whether if you want to take an online course or not, I believe it is a good experience to try it at least once throughout your years in college. If you stay self-motivated, organized and determined then it’ll be a breeze. It allows you to work on your own pace and schedule at your convenience.

All of these advantages gives students an experience to balance out their work, learn the materials and personal commitments on a busy schedule. Now that you know the ups and downs of taking online classes, enroll in an online course and see for yourself. Maybe if you like it you’ll be able to learn from your bed the whole semester!


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