Online classes provide an opportunity to continue education on your own schedule, allowing students to work or attend to other duties while going to school. While many people choose to attend an online college, there is another option available to some students: Taking online classes through a local university.
In most cases, you will need to be enrolled in the university as a regular full or part-time student, and you may need to take some classes in person. Nevertheless, taking classes online will help keep your schedule open so you can schedule your other duties and classes around it.
Whether you’re already a student at a local college or are considering enrollment, it’s a good idea to figure out what types of courses are offered and whether online classes are available.
What’s the Difference Between Online College and Traditional Online Classes?
Online universities exist in an entirely virtual space. You get course work over the Internet and turn in assignments through email or another messaging system. You will be able to contact your professor electronically, but students and teachers often live in different parts of the country and may not get much in-person contact.
Traditional college classes offer online classes as part of a general curriculum. In many cases, you’ll need to live in the same area as the school and be prepared to take some classes in person, so distance learning is not an option. Some colleges may offer distance education programs online for certain majors but the general availability of earning a full degree completely online is usually limited to just online colleges.
For online classes offered by a traditional college you will have greater access to your classmates and professor, but your primary mode of communication with them will be online. Different types of software enable virtual classrooms, and the basic lesson format will be similar whether you take a traditional class or one through a standard online college. You’ll download assignments, take quizzes and potentially listen to or watch pre-recorded lectures.
The primary difference between online universities and online classes offered by traditional colleges is the university behind the curriculum. Most online colleges are private schools and, while most are accredited, students should check accreditation for any learning institution. Traditional colleges offering online courses can be private or public institutions. Taking classes online through a local accredited college is a good way to keep a flexible schedule while still having access to the local school for other educational resources (such the as the library, labs etc.)
Does My School Offer Online Courses?
Many colleges do offer online classes, but some universities offer more programs than others. For example, some universities may offer only a few different courses online per semester, but others let students achieve almost an entire degree online. Course selection depends in part on the major; some types of subjects are easier to teach online than others.
The easiest way to find out about online classes is to consult the course catalog for the upcoming semester. Classes will be marked as online or in-person. Some classes may also be offered in a combination with most work being completed online but a few in-person lectures or meetings necessary.
When signing up for a class, be careful that you choose the appropriate one. Some courses may be offered under a variety of formats or professors, so you’ll want to be sure you sign up for the online version of the class instead of the traditional classroom version.
Classes change from one year to the next, so there’s no guarantee that a class offered online this year will continue to be offered in that format in subsequent years. You can discuss your preference for online classes with your advisor, who can help craft a schedule to allow you the most opportunities for online classes.
Do You Have to Be a Student to Take Online Classes?
For the most part, you will need to be enrolled in the university to take online classes, but some colleges will allow people to take one or two classes at a time and pay for them by the credit hour without enrolling as regular part-time students. You’ll need to check with the individual university for its regulations about this.
It’s also worth noting that some colleges offer free course materials online for certain subjects. This offers a good way for you to gather information without needing to enroll in school, but it doesn’t come with the accreditation of a real class.