a college student in pajamas using a laptop

This is probably what you imagine when you think of online classes.

When I registered for classes back in June, I was pretty pleased with my schedule for my first semester. After Orientation Week, however,  I realized that I wasn’t ready for my Intro to Public Speaking class. Even though it interested me (and is required), I have a pretty big fear of giving speeches.

So, instead of adding more anxiety on top of the inevitable stress of transitioning to college life,  I dropped that class in order to have a more manageable start to my year. But that meant I needed to find a replacement course, and as I scrolled the course options I found an English 111 course taught online.

I was so happy because this seemed to fit my needs and my schedule so much better.

As soon as I was enrolled, I bought my books and was excited at the thought of doing my classwork at home in my pajamas. The class started with a video introduction. Everything seemed good. The next step was to begin an online forum, which I found very confusing. And this is where my string of problems began.

The instructions provided on how to set up this forum were not clear at all. In an online class, it is up to you to figure out all the material on your own so you really need to be self-sufficient. But this is hard when it doesn’t make any sense.

As a freshman in my first semester, I found this aspect of my online class extremely overwhelming.

I seemed to be having a lot of technical issues as well. I emailed my professor about my issues and questions, but the issues were never really resolved or I would never get an email response back.

To be fair, this turned out to be problems with my email and, in fact, some of my professor’s emails were actually hiding in my inbox. There was also an instance where the professor marked me down for the wrong assignment. This just made things a lot more confusing and reiterated the fact that technological issues play a large part into online classes.

Overall, instructions and assignments were just not made clear to me and I couldn’t communicate well with my professor.

Technical issues, aside, having a professor online felt like having a mysterious and unreachable resource for guidance. I didn’t seem to be really learning anything, except the fact that I wasn’t doing well in an online class. I came to the conclusion pretty quickly that I prefer that face-to-face interaction with my professor and also my classmates.

Many courses include group projects and that is really tricky in an online class. For instance, there was a debate assignment that involved forming team and when I tried to find partners through emailing, I never got responses from any other people in the class.

This is when I just decided to withdraw from the class to save my GPA and my sanity.

My experience with taking online class was not a very good one, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be successful in one. If you enjoy learning at a fast pace and are able to work through any technical difficulties that may arise, an online class may be perfect for you. There are some definite pros to online classes, including:

  • Comfort
    You get to take the class in the comfort of your own home or a coffee shop or wherever you can get an internet connection.
  • Flexibility
    While there are due dates in an online class, you get to decide when you complete your coursework depending on the free time you have.

I’m glad I went through the experience because now I know to not take an online class when I register for next semester.

Overall, I think online classes have great potential but I caution you to be aware of the downfalls of online education. If you think you can stay on top your homework, figure out assignment instructions and be persistent in communicating with professors and classmates, then an online class might be worth it for you.

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Elizabeth Doyle

Elizabeth graduated in 2018. Her hometown in Minneapolis, MN and her hobbies include blogging on Tumblr, singing in choir and reading Harry Potter.

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