Online college has plenty of advantages. The flexibility of taking a course on your own schedule is perfect for students who have work or family obligations. Not having to commute to campus saves students both time and money. It seems like online college has everything a student could want, so why do some sources, like NEA Today, suggest that students are more likely to fail online college courses than traditional courses? Many failures stem from misperceptions about what to expect and a lack of knowledge about how and where students can get help.
Misconceptions about Online College
Some students fail online college courses because they don’t know what to expect. They may think that online classes are easier than classes taken in the classroom, when in reality these courses require more discipline and, often, more work. Just because students don’t have to follow a set schedule of lectures in a traditional classroom doesn’t mean their online course will require any less time than an on-campus course would. Students who expect to breeze through their online class or think doing the work on their own schedule means devoting little time to their studies may find themselves struggling. Students who neglect to obtain the necessary course materials, like required textbooks, also put themselves at risk for failing the class.
Combating Isolation in an Online Classroom
For other students, there’s a learning curve when it comes to learning in a virtual rather than physical classroom. Students who are used to being face-to-face with their instructors and classmates and who thrive on that close interpersonal interaction may have a hard time adjusting to the comparably impersonal nature of online learning. When students feel isolated and estranged from their instructor and fellow learners rather than engaged in the lesson – which is one of the biggest challenges with online education, according to The New York Times – they may be more likely to fall behind.
Succeeding in an Online Education
Students can take steps to help themselves succeed and minimize their risk of failure in online college courses. Before they enroll in an online course, they can assess their own learning style and potential. If they have a history of struggling in traditional courses, they should consider whether online college is right for them and determine what kinds of help and tutoring services are available for their online degree programs, should they need to use them. They can make sure they enter their online college program with realistic expectations regarding the workload and the time commitment they will have to invest. Students can also make use of chat options to benefit from virtual class discussions and communicate to their instructor if they feel they are getting lost.
Online college courses aren’t easy. They can even be more difficult than traditional college courses. However, with the right planning, realistic expectations, a lot of discipline and a willingness to seek help if necessary, students can succeed and thrive in online college courses.