Are Online Courses for You? 8 Questions to Ask Yourself

By Brittany Hawes on February 9, 2018

Are you looking to take one or more online courses next semester? If this is your first time and you’re nervous about switching from a physical classroom to a virtual one, don’t feel too overwhelmed! Online courses and courses that you take on campus share many similarities.

Here’s the low-down on online courses. Even if it’s an online course, you’ll still be earning the same amount of credits you would earn by taking the same course in a classroom instead. The material you cover should be the same but will most likely be given to you in a different format.

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At Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida, online courses are taken by students through a website called Canvas. In Canvas, professors and TAs provide the course material through modules that students will have access to. Professors have the option of posting quizzes and tests online through the Canvas website. These tests usually have time limits, just like traditional, classroom-based courses, and are open-note. Many professors make the most of the online nature of their course by posting interesting links to sites around the web that will help their students better meet the course objectives. Some Florida State online courses don’t have required textbooks; instead, students make use of readings, PowerPoint presentations, videos, and texts that are provided by the professor and are posted under “Modules” on Canvas.

Even though your physical presence in a classroom won’t be required for many online courses out there (which may sound like a dream to some students), there are still many difficulties that come with being enrolled in an online course.  As I mentioned before, you won’t be in a classroom. Because of this, it might be easier for some individuals to forget about an upcoming test in the course or an assignment that is due at midnight. Without a physically present professor and the familiar classroom surroundings, students have grown accustomed to, some may find it difficult to remind themselves to get a virtual assignment finished. Some may even let deadlines slip by without realizing there was an assignment in the first place.

So, after reading through the above, how do you know if an online course is going to be right for you? Here are eight questions to ask yourself before you enroll in online courses

1. Am I doing this because it seems like the easy route?

Online courses are not the easy route. If anything, online courses can be more difficult. You won’t have the professor right in front of you to ask questions and it’s up to you to set deadlines for when assignments get finished. Don’t take an online course if you’re thinking this is the easy way to pass this particular class.

2. Do I have the technology to complete an online course efficiently?

As the name implies, online courses are going to be, for the most part, strictly taught through online means. This means that you will need to have access to a computer. If you don’t own a home computer or a laptop, you will need to be prepared for visits to your campus’s library or your local public library. Some libraries allow you to check out a laptop for use at home!

3. Am I motivated enough to be in an online course?

Taking online courses requires a lot of motivation. You won’t be face-to-face with your professor. Sometimes, it might not even seem like you’re in the course. That’s why it’s important to have the motivation to complete this particular course. If you’re a self-motivated person, you can easily handle online courses.

4. Why am I taking this course online?

What are your reasons for taking this online course? If it’s because you think this course is going to be easier because it’s online, you may want to rethink taking an online course.

5. How organized am I?

A lot of online courses require submitted documents and projects. Are you the type of person to keep text, photos, and videos carefully labeled and categorized in your laptop’s folders? Or do your documents seem to have the tendency to turn up in the most random of places?

6. Am I able to interact meaningfully online with other people?

Interacting with your classmates, professors, and TAs through email is a staple of online classes. If you’re going to take online courses, will you be able to effectively communicate with the other people sharing in this course? Discussion board posts are a common thing in many online courses. If you know you can do this, don’t feel intimidated by online courses.

7. Can I afford to take an online course?

Price is another thing to take into consideration. Online courses usually cost more than traditional classroom courses. Will you be able to afford the extra hundreds of dollars taking an online course is going to cost you?

8. Am I comfortable with using technology?

How good are you with navigating the Internet? Typing emails? Communicating with others online?

After you have asked yourself all of these questions, look back and see how comfortable you feel with each question. If your answers put you at ease with the thought of taking online courses, then you are ready to enroll in an online course next semester. Good luck!

Hi there! My name's Britt and I'm a senior majoring in English major at Florida State University. I have these crazy, big dreams of traveling the entire world and writing novels in my spare time. I love music, food, and the Japanese culture. I plan on teaching English in Japan upon graduation from Florida State. My first YA novel, Twisted, was published by Deep Sea Publishing Company in 2014. It won a Readers' Favorite Book Award that same year. Alongside schoolwork, I'm working hard on the second book in the Twisted series as well as a number of other novels.

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