Tips From an Irvine College Admissions Consultant: Online College Courses
Online education has become more popular, especially for students attending a community college or students who would like to complete a summer school course online while visiting home. The quality of an online class can vary just as much as an in-person class and there are a few questions that online students should ask themselves before signing up (READ: “staying focused at community college”).
1. How often is the student required to attend campus?
Students who attend college in Minnesota but spend summers back home in California should know if they’re required to be on campus at all. It would be entirely impractical to have to show up once a month to a class in another state. Students should ask the instructor if the class is 100% online or if it’s a blended learning course. Alternately, students who attend a junior college 10 miles away from their residence may find that attending an in-person class two or three times throughout the course can help them stay on track and manage their time.
2. Is there a physical or Internet-based support center?
Most online courses offered at a community college or four-year university will have a teacher attached to the course. If this is the case then there will likely be an option to contact the instructor via email or through the online class forum. Additionally, some blended learning (in person and online) courses will have a physical learning center where students can get together and collaborate on homework assignments, projects, and test preparation. On the other hand, some online courses have an “instructor”, somebody who wrote the curriculum and designed the course material but who is not available for comment on a regular basis. If this is the case, the student should know that they are essentially on their own and will receive little to no help (READ: “Ask a Nerd! Community College”).
3. What is the student’s confidence level with the course material?
If the student is a literature major and the online course is titled Literature 105: Science-fiction & Fantasy, then they are probably going to be just fine. Reading is mostly done in solitude and this course material will be very familiar to an English major. However, if an English major is signing up for an online course titled Advanced Math 504: Computer Coding and Statistics, they may be in trouble. Without the benefit of regular in-person meetings, the student may find that they either have to use a private tutor more extensively than they planned on or that they simply need to drop the class – boost your confidence with the help of an Irvine college tutor.
4. What is the size of the class?
For the most part, instructors take on the task of teaching online courses either because it fits within their schedule, they live far away from the college, or they enjoy the use of modern technology. However, one person is always one person regardless of the teaching platform. Think about an in-person class and the difference in quality of education between a freshman 101 class with 300 students and 1 instructor versus an advanced major course with 25 students and 1 instructor. Instructors need to dedicate a certain amount of time to each student in a physical classroom and the same holds true with Internet-based learning (READ: “Extra Curricular Activities For Your College Resume”).
If the online course closes at a maximum of 45 students, then the students will get emails answered promptly or be able to view commonly asked questions through the online class forum. This will provide a high quality of education and a good chance of success. On the other hand, some online classes want to maximize profits and will accept several hundred students. If this is the case, it’s very unlikely that any student will receive a personalized email response from the instructor. This might be fine for a student who simply needs to get a simple and basic class out of the way but will present ample issues for a student who would like any guidance.
Internet-based classes are a great benefit to students who have jobs and families, who live in remote areas, or who simply don’t have the time to get to a physical classroom. However, it’s important that online students ask a few questions before signing up for the class.
All blog entries, with the exception of guest bloggers, are written by Tutor Nerds. Are you an education professional? If so, email us at [email protected] for guest blogging and collaborations. We want to make this the best free education resource in SoCal, so feel free to suggest what you would like to see us post about.