What are online classes like?

What are online classes like?

Colleges have begun making online classes more readily available to help reach students across the globe. Currently, roughly 26% of students engage in distance learning by taking online classes.

When taking online classes students might engage in videoconferencing, pre-recorded lectures, readings, and discussion boards. When taking online classes, it’s important to have access to a computer and reliable internet.

Online Class Structure

While online class structure may vary from school to school, many things remain consistent. Students need to regularly log in to a learning system or portal to view the syllabus, post their assignments, contact the professor, and gather resources.

Students must also understand the requirements to attend the class and ensure that their equipment (laptop) meets those criteria. If there are attendance policies, such as posting on discussion boards, students will need to follow those as well. Submissions will generally be time-stamped to monitor participation.

How do students interact in online classes?

The most common forms of interaction amongst students in online classes is through discussion boards, videoconferencing, phone, or email. If there are group assignments to complete, students have to get creative in how they communicate with each one another if they’re unable to meet in person. 

Online professors are not always able to respond as quickly as in-class professors because of the communication delay. It’s important that students manage their time wisely to account for this delay so they have enough time to wait for the response.

Workload for online classes

Workload is going to vary from class to class, but just because the class is online doesn’t necessarily make it easier. Many students find themselves dedicating 15-20 hours per week on classwork. This can fluctuate depending on whether or not students are full-time and how many classes they are enrolled in.  It’s also important to note that students in online classes are responsible for owning their learning and understanding of the material. Depending on how well students can teach themselves, this could add several hours to weekly studying.

The length of the class might also influence the amount of time studying each week. Some semesters are accelerated, which means more work per class as well as more information covered each week.


Time management is going to be the key to success with online classes. Students should set calendar reminders for assignment due dates, and make sure to not get overwhelmed with a large class load. Just because the class is taken online doesn’t mean it’ll be easier.

Before committing to online classes, students should speak with an advisor to gain a better understanding of how to best prepare themselves for success.