Pros And Cons: Should You Take An Online Course?

Why not register for an online class for fun or credit? Learn in the privacy and comfort of your own home.

More colleges and universities are offering online courses in a broad range of subjects. From art to zoology, you can enroll in a class of your choice and learn from home while sitting in front of the computer screen in your pajamas.

If you don't know much about computers, you may be concerned that you won't be able to navigate the course components. Here are some of the things you may experience if you register for a Web-based course:

1. You may never encounter a university official face-to-face. Everything you need to do for many courses can be handled online. Go to the college's home page, click on the schedule of classes, and browse until you find one that interests you. Then return to the home page and click on admissions or registration, depending on whether you're a new or returning student, and schedule your course. When finished, simply pay with a credit card or visa, avoiding the hassle of long waits in line or telephone delays.

2. You may be able to take the class at your own pace. Unless otherwise designated, you can complete several online lessons at once or spread them out over the term. This can come in handy when you face job pressures or family duties. A potential problem, and one that many online students struggle with, is the temptation to procrastinate. Unfortunately, it is all too easy to neglect course requirements like reading and assignments, believing that you can get caught up later. All too often, "later" never comes and the student may drop or fail the course. Create a timeline or follow the instructor's guidelines for staying on task.

3. You can do the work as it fits your lifestyle. If you're an early riser, sit down at the computer by 6:00 a.m. and finish the day's class activities by 8:00. Then you're free to head off to work or feed the baby, whichever task lays before you for that day. If interrupted, you can always return at a more convenient time to pick up where you left off. Or wait until the kids are in bed and work from 10 to 12 p.m.

4. You may not meet the instructor or other students. Avoiding distractions or personality quirks can be helpful to a serious college student. On the other hand, there are definite proven advantages to peer learning via study groups and collaborative activities. It also may be difficult to talk with an unknown instructor by email when face-to-face can be more meaningful. Of course, you can always schedule an appointment to meet on campus if necessary.

5. You could experience technological glitches. No matter where your computer is situated or which types of products you use, it is possible to lose your Internet or email connection occasionally, resulting in a communication delay. Be sure your hardware and connections are in good shape, and contact a service technician for occasional checkups or upgrades. While you don't have to know all the ins and outs of programming or maintaining a computer, you should know when to call for help when it is needed.

Taking an online course is convenient, easy, and fun. Check out the latest offerings at your community college and enroll for a credit or non-credit class that can enhance your way of life.

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