If you’re in high school and you’ve never taken an online course, you probably have a hundred questions. Like, “what are online high school courses really like?” Or “will it be easier or harder than taking a course at school?” We all know hindsight is 20/20, so we asked a few real current and former online students about their experiences. Here are the top things that they wished they’d known before starting an online course.
“There are real deadlines”
And they’re no joke. For most online courses, you get assignments or tests that are due each week (just like in any other class at school). The difference is, you’re responsible for keeping up with your schedule. It’s important to keep a planner and organize yourself, so you always know when your next assignment is due. One of the biggest things we heard from every student was how important it was to set aside time to, not only finish their assignments, but to turn them in. When you have to turn in an assignment by 6 PM, you probably shouldn’t wait until 5:59 PM to submit it. With online learning, you need to accommodate for the unknowns, like technical difficulties or slow wifi connections. So, waiting until the last 30 seconds to turn in your work isn’t the best way to go.
“Your teacher will call you and you can call them”
Most online high school courses also come with teachers – and they’re pretty involved. They’ll probably set up a regular call with you, but in between, they’re always available via text, call, email or even chat. Be sure to note their office hours so you always have that handy, but they’ll always return your calls. It’s in your best interest to stay connected to your teacher so that when you do have a question, you know how to reach out. Many students we talked to said they saved their teachers contact information in their phone right away, so they were always an easy text message away.
“It’s harder to fall behind”
In a traditional classroom, if you zone out for a few minutes you’ll completely miss whatever your teachers just said. There’s no pause or rewind button, so you’re left wondering if you missed something important. With online learning, zoning out for a few minutes, or taking a quick break to check your friends new Insta Story, doesn’t mean you’ve missed any material. You set the pace and have the freedom to pause the lesson. Making it harder to fall behind. This was something that several students told us they didn’t think about but is one of the biggest things they appreciated about taking high school courses online.
“You’re responsible for your time”
In an online course, you’re responsible for managing your time and your schedule. Seem daunting? Well, think about it this way. In high school you’re really not in control of your schedule – the bell rings and you move onto your next class. But, once you get to college that is all going to change. From day one, there are no bells and no teachers telling you where to be and when. Managing your time is all on you. So, taking an online course now really prepares you for that. Meaning, once you get there you know what you’re doing. Being more prepared when you get to college means you can manage your time better and have more of it for yourself.
“You have to engage with other students”
When you think about taking an online course the first thing that comes to mind is, working alone. The reality is, when you take an online course you’re likely still going to have to work with other students. Whether it’s through group projects, online discussions or video study groups – you will have to interact and work with your online classmates. It’s cool to learn how to do that in an online setting, but it also takes some work to figure out. Especially when you’re working with students from all over the world.
Do you have more questions? Take a look at some of our other blog posts, like this one on the common fears of online education. Or this one on how to decide whether or not online learning is right for you. We’re also available via phone or chat. Contact us anytime.