If you’ve been thinking of going back to school but can’t imagine fitting classes into your hectic and sometimes erratic schedule, an online class is a great option.

Online classes are convenient and offer the same great education as a regular class. But there are a few basic differences to how the classes operate. When you aren’t showing up for designated times in the classroom, you do have to dedicate time in your week to an online class and the resulting homework that you’ll need to complete to understand the material.

How can you make your online class experience the best it can be?

Commit to the Time

You aren’t expected to show up in a classroom, so you get to save a lot of commuting time. But you are expected to still show up, even virtually, for class time. Some classes “meet” at regular times while others can be done at your convenience. Whatever type of meeting your class requires, commit to the time. If you don’t show up, you won’t get anything from the class. Don’t try to take a class when you’re watching your daughter’s soccer game and don’t try to squish it in at 2 am when you’re exhausted. Giving it your best shot means being present in all ways.

Get Familiar With the Technology

An online class won’t be convenient if you’re struggling with getting access, turning in assignments, or reading notes because you aren’t familiar with the computer. Take the time to play around with the technology so you know how to do what’s required. If you still can’t get it, ask for help. Find out how to access all the information you’ll need – from the syllabus to your final grade.

Don’t Be a Wallflower

Your professor might be 1,000 miles away and your classmates might be scattered around the country, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get to know everyone. Participate in class discussions and on discussion boards. Ask your professor questions and don’t be afraid to speak up, even with your computer. Just like a regular class, participants want to learn and that happens through sharing ideas. If you are unsure about expectations, contact your instructor right away.

Keep to a Schedule

Yes, this is an online class, but the more consistent you are with your work, the better your experience will be. Don’t procrastinate because you can’t expect your professor to get right back to you if you have last-minute questions. They may seem like they are available all the time, but online professors are often teaching several classes, and they generally set aside specific times to answer students.

A successful online class experience takes as much commitment as any other class, it’s just often easier to fit into your schedule. With a little advance planning and your best effort, your chances of success are high.

Julia Quinn-Szcesuil

Julia Quinn-Szcesuil

Julia Quinn-Szcesuil is a freelance writer based in Bolton, Massachusetts.
Julia Quinn-Szcesuil

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