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What's an Online College Class Really Like?

September 12, 2017 by Karen Grossman |

Graphic Image of desk with computer and printerWhen you think of college, you may imagine a sea of students in rows of amphitheater seating. Just like college classes can vary in size and scope, online learning comes in different formats. UNCG offers this flexibility in its online degree-completion programs.

In an online class, you can expect:

  • Synchronous and asynchronous classes are available. Synchronous classes are held at a set time each week and give you accountability to be online at a certain time. Asynchronous classes are more flexible, with no set class time and letting you complete the work within a set time frame.

  • Community college classes may be small and intimate, with opportunity for lots of feedback. Your online class may be small and intimate too. You’ll get to know other students through group work, participate in discussion forums, and text or call each other for feedback and questions. You’ll also watch video lectures wherever you find an online connection—in a coffee shop or from your couch with your cat.

  • College classes require some self-guidance and move at a faster pace than other courses you may be used to. You’ll have reading and writing assignments outside of class in addition to lectures.

What your professors expect

Learning in an online classroom gives you some flexibility, but that doesn’t mean you’ll find loose expectations.

Here’s what professors want you to know:

  • Don’t expect professors to hold your hand through assignments or to check in with you. They’re available if you need them—just ask. Call, email, or visit during office hours. Check your professor’s syllabus for available hours and how long it takes for a response.

  • Be present. Log in to every class, listen to every lecture, do all of your reading, and submit all assignments on time. “If the instructor says Wednesday, 11:59 p.m., a Thursday, 12:01 a.m., submission is considered late,” says Trina Gabriel, UNCG Online Student Advisor and Recruitment Specialist.

  • There’s no extra credit in college. Do your best on your assignments because there’s no emergency kit to bail you out for poor planning.

A guide to good planning:

  • There aren’t as many assignments, so each one is worth more. Don’t wait until the last minute to start a project or study. Plan for a few hours of work outside of class each week.

  • You’re in charge of submitting work by the due date, asking for help, and managing your time.

  • Use your syllabus as a guide for due dates and don’t expect reminders. Plug the dates in on your calendar.

  • “You have to be a leader in your education,” Gabriel says. “You have to be in charge of your own learning.”

What universities can offer

Get the most out of everything a university has to offer. Though getting your degree online, you can still take advantage of campus resources:

  • At a university, students have several points of contact. Admissions can’t help you with questions about tuition, but each department on campus is set up to assist you in its area of expertise.

  • A university campus offers services online students can take advantage of: academic advisors, the library, The Writing Center, and more.

  • You can build relationships in online classrooms and it’s important to do so. Students work on group projects and teamwork is a big part of that.

Ready to see a class for yourself?

Visit UNCG Online to download a brochure.



Download Guide to Online Programs