Online College Classes

What are your options for earning a degree—or at least some classes online?

Online College Classes

Learning Online

Online College Classes

Getting up for an 8 a.m. class can be rough. Doesn’t it sound enticing to be able to wake up on your own, do your work on the computer and work from anywhere? With online college classes, you can.

What options are there for learning online?

You can earn an entire degree through online college classes, or take classes online through a traditional college to earn a degree or just master a certain topic. Is there a course you need that isn’t offered at a convenient time? You might be able to take it online.

As a high school student, you might also be able to take online classes to earn college credit before graduating.

Should everyone consider online college classes?

“As is true with many aspects of life, including college itself, the online course is not for everyone,” says Larry Edmonds, faculty member at Arizona State University (

Being proficient in Facebook doesn’t mean you’re automatically a match for online classes. Think about how much face-to-face interaction with teachers and other students influences how well you learn.

Are online college classes easier?

Students learn quickly that “online” does not mean “easy.”

“A few folks drop out the first week of classes because they learn once they see the syllabus … that this is not the cakewalk they had anticipated,” Edmonds says.

Though they aren’t attending lectures, online students spend time reading assignments, watching videos and contributing to online discussions.

Bruce Kingma, associate provost and professor at Syracuse University (, says, “Online courses are definitely not the easy way out. Online discussions are text-based and require more thought, input and participation by all students.

Student group participation requires textual interaction, which requires more time and effort than verbal communications.”

Many professors require online students to contribute multiple posts.

“Online learning must be active in order to achieve any kind of success in the course,” says Carolyn Hess Johnson, Esq., assistant professor of law and forensic studies at Stevenson University ( “The option of sitting in the back of a traditional classroom … and choosing not to participate in class discussion does not exist in the online setting.”

How do online college classes look on a transcript?

“Students receive the same degree whether they complete it online or face to face, so employers do not know the difference,” Kingma says.

Johnson agrees: “If a student is attending an institution that offers both traditional and online learning, there is no indication to an employer that a particular student took online courses exclusively.”

Anything else I should know?

Online college degrees require planning, self-directed learning and a strong work ethic.

“The primary reason students are not successful in online courses is that they are unprepared for the personal discipline that online learning requires,” says Johnson.

“Online, it is clear within a week or so which students will not have the time to be engaged with the courses,” Kingma says. “In a face-to-face course, it may take longer to identify a student who will not be performing.”

But for those who can’t attend college classes—either for a few courses or an entire degree—online college degrees offer a way to still get an education.


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