I Am Taking A Semester of Online Classes: Here’s My Experience and Tips

This semester, I decided to take four classes all online – which is equivalent to a full-time schedule. However, like many other things, online classes have their pros and cons. This is what I have to say so far.

When taking online classes, it’s important to choose meaningful courses to your major or towards graduation – most times. For me, this is the case. I did thorough research before making my decision, using FSU’s Liberal Studies Course Search tool to find classes that fulfill my FSU and Statewide requirements. Then, when the Course Catalog was made available, I refined my search to FSU and Statewide course requirements that were 100% online. From there, I was able to find four classes – which I’m currently enrolled in. Now, if you’re just looking to fulfill electives or are searching for an interesting class outside of your major, you can do that as well.

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Once I found the four classes I wanted to enroll in, I quickly referred to RateMyProfessors to search up the professors who taught the class to see what I was getting myself into. However, it’s important to realize that students resort to RateMyProfessors and leave comments if they did extremely well within the class or were a teacher’s pet, if they had an extremely awful experience with the professor, or if they have a neutral and realistic review to leave. Due to this, it’s important to use discretion when taking into consideration these reviews and also to use other resources – such as Facebook groups or asking your peers – when coming to a conclusion about a class or a professor.

As for the online courses themselves, they’re kind of weird yet great. Their great in the sense that school is online, allowing for free time to focus on other important obligations – like a part-time job or an internship. Mostly, it’s important to stay active in your classes because it’s easy to fall behind. Each week, there’s a discussion board due. If you’ve never taken an online course, a discussion board is a forum (usually on Canvas) where you discuss the weekly readings through answering questions posed by the professor and responding to your peers’ answers as well. For me, all four discussion boards are due on Sunday night of every week. This can become hectic, especially if I procrastinate. So, what I do is plan my own due dates for the assignments on the weekdays leading up to Sunday. For example, I’ll complete one class’s assignments on Mondays, another class’s assignments on Tuesdays and etc. Planning and time management are two important factors in taking a full-time schedule online. If you go into a semester of online classes having no understanding of planning or time management, you’ll definitely leave knowing something or two about both because you’re literally forced to manage your time and plan.

The grading scale is the same for online courses as it is for traditional courses. However, the structure of exams and tests are a bit different. I, personally, cannot stand multiple choice exams. I feel as if it confines the student’s ability to properly express what they’ve learned. With online classes, a majority of the tests you’ll be given are multiple-choice. So, there’s not much leeway for expression or partial credit – either you got the credit for the answer or didn’t. If you’ve studied for the exam, there’s no issue. However, if you have a professor like me who makes the exams unnecessarily difficult, your studying may not suffice. In one of my classes that I’m currently enrolled in, almost the entire class got a low score on the first exam to the point where a curve was administered. An “A” was equivalent to 75% and a “B” ranged from 50% to 70%. I think this was from the professors forgetting that we’re online students. The questions on the exam were posed and structured as if we were in the lecture and were so specific. This is what threw me off.

Other than the one issue I explained above, I have no issue with my online classes. If you plan on ever taking a full-time schedule online, make sure to prepare beforehand because planning and time management well help you keep afloat. Keeping a planner and handwriting your notes (if this is your preference) helps you to visualize your schedule, see when your assignments are due and manifest as an online student.

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