You might think online classes are a snap. After all, you don't have to show up to class every other day, and you can do your assignments whenever you please, as long as they're in before the due date. It's not that simple, though. I'm in the middle of my fourth class online, and even though they're a pain, I keep coming back to them. Why?

The Good

Online classes are great if you're a high schooler doing dual enrollment. I did an online class each semester of my senior year and got college credit, which was great. They're also good if you go to a small university and all the classes you need are scheduled at the same time or on the same day. They're also a good idea if you need something to do during the summer. If you're just working part-time or couldn't find a job, why not fill your time with a class? If you go to a school with a ton of gen ed requirements, summer is a great time to get those out of the way. "Get a class out of the way" - I cringe at that language now, thanks to my Brit Lit II prof, but it's true. I have no interest in biology, but my university requires a science and a lab for all majors, so that's what I'm taking online through Asbury this summer. I'd rather devote my time during the actual school year to classes I'm interested in - for my major and minor and electives.

The Bad

You're entirely responsible for keeping yourself on track and getting everything done on time. If you aren't used to doing this, it's easy to fall behind quickly. Also, if your class is heavily forum-based, you have to rely on others posting so you can respond to their posts, and often you have nothing worthwhile to add to what they said. In addition, it's hard to respond to a professor's comments on an assignment, and it's hard to contest an answer on a quiz or exam. Sometimes your labs take forever to load, and they're time sensitive so you can't get up to get food or water or take a bathroom break. In addition, when labs or videos or whatever don't work, you have to wait for technical support. You can't get immediate help from your professor.

The Ugly

What's worse than having to wait for your classmates to post on a forum is what I had to do in my dual enrollment psychology class my senior year of high school. We were required to meet in person (if we were all on the university's campus, which none of us were) or video chat once a week with our assigned group. We had to discuss the weekly questions, ones that we had already answered individually, and agree on collective answers to them to be submitted to the professor. This was such a hassle because Google video chat took forever to work, or someone would forget what time we were meeting (including me, since I was in a different time zone than the others). Even worse was the fact that, by about the third week of class, the microphone on my laptop just stopped working so my group-mates couldn't hear me. We used a Google Doc to collectively answer the questions, so I used that to communicate, but it was extremely frustrating and altogether unnecessary.

Professors shouldn't require video chats of any kind. My New Testament professor last summer had two mandatory video chat sessions for the entire class, and they were at such an inconvenient time in the evenings. Not to mention, I was in the process of packing up my house to move across the country so I didn't have time to participate. I explained this to her, and she didn't dock my grade but she definitely made it clear I just wouldn't receive the participation credit everyone else was receiving.

The Verdict

Taking an online class can be great, but it's not for everyone, and none of the classes are perfect. Weigh your choices carefully and decide if it's something you really want to do. For gen ed classes, it can be great since it's not always a field you're interested in, so you can put in minimal effort. But if it's for your major or minor, I think taking the class on campus is best.