Prior to taking an online course, it is important to consider the following. First, online courses are often more difficult than face-to-face courses. Second, online courses will often take more of your time than a face-to-face course. And third, online course will require you to be self-motivated and self-disciplined in ways face to face courses will not.
Online courses are often more difficult than face to face courses because they engage students in an entirely different manner. No longer can a student skate by in a class by skimming the course materials and listening to class discussions. Instead, students are responsible for reading all course materials and making the connections between the materials and the course objectives with far less interaction and input from the instructor and other students than they might have received in a classroom.
Because online courses will require a significant amount of reading and writing, they often take more time than students think they might. Most online courses are structured in such a way that students need to log in to the class on three or four different days during the week. Each time a student logs in to a class, he or she can expect to spend an hour or two working on assignments, responding to discussion questions and classmates, or completing tests. That means students will spend six to eight hours a week minimum working on an online course. Most face-to-face courses meet four to five hours per week.
Finally, if you are not self-motivated and self-disciplined, you’ll likely not be successful in online courses. Without a classroom to go to at a particular time every week, it is easy to put off the work for an online course until it is too late to complete it. I always recommend that students make a schedule for themselves and access their online classes at the same time each day. That way they can maintain their focus, keep up on their assignments, and keep themselves from falling behind.
Online courses can be a very good way to fit an educational goal into a busy working schedule. The best advice anyone can give you is to be sure to evaluate your time constraints and motivation while considering the basics of how most online courses operate. If you can meet the obligations of the course and maintain your motivation and discipline, you’ll be successful.