“Are online classes hard?” That is one of the more popular questions prospective students ask when it comes to online education. Although many schools extol the benefits of online learning, which include flexibility, convenience, and affordability, there are also many disadvantages and difficulties associated with taking online classes. Read our list of 14 reasons why online classes are hard to determine if you are up for the challenge.
1. You Need to Be a Good Student.
Online learning is not for everyone. The curriculum for online courses is just as difficult as courses that take place in a traditional classroom setting. Without face-to-face interaction with professors or a set time to study, adjusting to online learning can be challenging for even the best students. If you have struggled with your studies in the past, it is likely that you will find online learning to be an even more difficult experience.
2. It is Important to Be Self-Motivated.
Online courses do not allow for hand-holding and your success with online learning is entirely up to you. You will have to keep up with your coursework without supervision, hand in your assignments without being reminded, and follow-up with professors of your own volition when you do not understand the course material. Like anything in life, when it comes to your online studies, you will only get out of it what you put in.
3. You Need to Be an Independent Learner.
You need to be able to study without guidance. Since your professors are not always readily accessible, it is also important for you to be able to figure out answers to difficult questions without their help. Also, depending on the format of your online class, you may not have as many professor-led lectures as a classroom course, which might require you to read through your textbooks and teach some of the course material to yourself.
4. You Must Have Strong Time-Management Skills.
If you find it hard to manage your time, then taking online courses may be difficult for you. Pursuing online coursework requires you to be well-organized, so that you can balance your coursework effectively and complete your assignments on time. Students who do not stay on top of their coursework tend to fall behind in their classes and might even drop-out of school altogether.
5. It is a Big Time Commitment.
While you may be able to avoid a commute to campus, online courses will require as much of a time commitment as classroom courses. You need to allot at least 8 to 10 hours weekly for your studies per course that you are enrolled in. So, if you are enrolled in four classes, that may mean up to 40 hours of coursework.
6. You Might Get Easily Distracted.
When attending classes on campus at a set-time, it might be easier for you to ignore outside distractions and take the time to focus on only your schoolwork. However, while at home, it is more likely that you will encounter the many distractions of daily living, whether it be family responsibilities, noisy neighbors or the dirty dishes left in the sink. The Internet can also be very distracting. Today’s students are a product of the digital age, so they are avid users of Facebook, Twitter, and other social media tools, but these tools can be disruptive when you are doing coursework online, and your studies may not end up getting your full attention.
7. You Have to Be Computer Literate.
You must have a basic understanding of computers and technology in order to participate successfully in an online course. If you are uncomfortable with computers, online classes are likely not for you.
8. You May Encounter Tech Problems.
Reliable technology is critical to the success of an e-learning program. Unfortunately, no technology is 100% reliable at all times. For example, a program could crash or an Internet connection could fail and unexpectedly terminate a class, which can add additional pressure to your studies beyond just completing the set curriculum.
9. You Need to Be a Good Writer.
Depending on your chosen area of study, it is not always necessary to be a strong writer in order to be successful in a campus course, because you are often able to express yourself verbally. However, for online courses, most communication is done through writing—whether through email, forums, instant messaging or written assignments. If writing is difficult for you, it may make your online course even harder than its on-campus counterpart.
10. It is Hard to Learn Hands-on Subjects.
Some subjects simply cannot be taught as effectively online. Hands-on subjects like public speaking, auto repair, and massage therapy are best taught in a traditional learning environment. However, hybrid courses may be a solution for those who are able to commute to campus part of the time.
11. You Might Feel Isolated.
When you study in a traditional environment, you have the opportunity to interact and connect with other students. This makes for a stimulating, enjoyable learning experience that improves your ability to work in a team. Online courses make it challenging to build a sense of community, which might leave you feeling isolated and alone.
12. Communication is Less Swift and Can Be Time Consuming.
Communication takes more time in online courses. There is quite a bit of correspondence between students and teachers via email, forum posting, and instant messaging, which adds to the demands of e-learning. You may also have to wait hear back from your professors and classmates, which can delay the progress of your assignments.
13. It is Difficult to Engage in Meaningful Class Discussions.
Although many e-learning programs encourage students to participate in forums to foster discussion about the course material, many students see it as an obligation—concerned with checking off a box and receiving credit—and hence, engage in thin conversations that lack substance. While it is possible that rich discussions may take place in your course’s online forum, conversations that occur in the classroom tend to be more organic and less forced.
14. Not All Professors Can Make the Transition to Online Instruction.
Just because a professor is skilled at teaching a face-to-face course does not mean he will be good at teaching the same course online. If your instructor is not able to communicate well through writing or if they have not converted the curriculum to meet the needs of an online learning environment, it might make your online course harder than it would be in-person.
Determining if Online Classes Are for You
With the number of e-learning programs and courses at colleges and universities continuing to grow, today is an exciting time to be a student. Technology has made it possible to pursue a higher education anytime, anywhere. So, are online classes hard? It depends on the circumstances and on your own learning style. If you work well independently and are computer literate, consider pursuing an e-learning program. If any of the above challenges seem insurmountable to you, stick with a traditional college education. It also possible to get your feet wet with one or two online courses before enrolling in a full program online.