By Celeste Stewart
Touring an online college is unlike traditional campus tours. Due to the virtual nature of online classes, expect to go on a virtual walk-through. While you won’t be shown buildings covered with ivy or a quad filled with students, an online college class tour provides you with a realistic peek into what an actual class might look like. These tours take several forms including video tours and demonstration classes that you can sign into and explore. Regardless of how an online college presents its college class tour, it’s smart to go on a virtual walk-through. Here’s what to expect and what to look for in an online college.
As you tour an online college, pay close attention to lectures and course content. Some courses are strictly text based while others feature live lectures, prerecorded videos and multimedia presentations. Depending on how the online walk-through is presented, it may not be obvious how the course content is usually delivered. For example, a video college class tour may show you which button to click in order to access the course but might not show you what an actual class looks like. If this is the case, ask your enrollment advisor. In fact, your advisor may even be able to provide you with temporary or guest credentials where you can sign in and view an actual online college class that’s currently in session.
Another important aspect of any online college class involves instructor contact. During your walk-through, find out how students and instructors interact with one another. Does the course interface allow for real-time interaction? Live chats? Voice chats? Does the online college encourage instructors to be as accessible as possible? Can you speak to the instructor privately if needed?
As you participate in a college class tour or demo, look for a discussion or Q&A section. Many learning management systems include discussion boards similar to forums where students can discuss current assignments and get their questions answered.
During your walk-through, you’ll also want to explore how assignments are handled. Many online college interfaces feature a specific tab that contains upcoming assignments. It’s not a bad idea to find out when assignments are typically posted and how you’re expected to submit them.
Quizzes and exams are as much a fact of life for online college students as they are for traditional students. During your college class tour, make sure to pay attention to this important area. Can you take quizzes and exams online or are you expected to visit a testing facility for proctored exams? Are quizzes and exams held at specific times and dates or do you have a window of time to take them?
During the walk-through, look for a grading section as many learning management systems provide students with real-time access to current grades. Not only can you quickly see how you’re doing, these grading systems alert you to missing or overdue assignments.
Going on virtual college tours and participating in demo courses can give you a feel for whether or not an online college is right for you. Other considerations include computer system requirements and your personal learning style. Are you ready for an online college experience? Go on a college tour and find out!