College students have been attending classroom courses for a pretty long time now. With the creation of online courses, however, these students have been given the ability to take their classes anywhere they can use the Internet. There are some fairly large differences between traditional and online courses, which may not be apparent to students until they actually take both types of classes during a semester. All students might be surprised at the different skills required to get through each type of course, so we’ll take a look at both types and how to balance them during a semester.
Everyone – and I mean everyone – has taken a traditional course throughout their schooling. Of course, you could feasibly go through college completely online, but you’d still have previous traditional class experience no matter what. Many college students prefer this old-fashioned type of class because it is what is comfortable and familiar to them, and there is nothing wrong with that. Anyways, these types of courses have been around for literally hundreds of years. How else would anyone be able attend college? There are certain skill sets required to be successful in traditional college classes. Yeah, many of us are already aware of this, but it’s good to actually take a look at what is necessary to succeed:
* Ability to sit in a class and listen or watch.
* Ability to follow strict deadlines.
* Ability to work at the pace set by an instructor.
* Ability to focus during every class meeting.
* Ability to take notes efficiently.
As you can see, there are a good number of requirements to successfully completing a traditional college course, but there are plenty more that aren’t listed here. Passing a college course isn’t the most difficult thing in the world, but having the previously mentioned skills will help you fly through the course without a problem in the world. Okay, on to the online courses.
* Following a teacher’s predetermined class plans.
* Being able to contact and study in-person with other students easily.
* Going to class multiple times per week so that you always know what is going on.
* Ability to see the teacher more easily.
Online courses are a fairly new invention, but they have been around for years. However, their prominence has grown over time, and you can now find hundreds of them for any particular college campus. Most people like Internet-only courses because they are more of a “work at your own pace” sort of deal most of the time; you simply have to meet the deadlines that are set in advance. Also, these courses allow you to do as much or as little work as you want because you are in complete control of how the course flows. The skill sets required for these courses are slightly different than the ones necessary for getting through a traditional college course.:
* Ability to work on your own without an instructor telling you to do so.
* Ability to meet deadlines.
* Ability to do plenty of reading on your own.
* Ability to work efficiently on your own.
Obviously, there are plenty of other skills required, but you can see that many of them always involve you being by yourself. You probably won’t come across many “group” projects on an Internet-only course. Many people like to believe that online courses are easier than traditional ones, but this is actually the exact opposite for most people. In fact, online courses place more responsibility on the shoulder of the students than regular classes do, and many students find this out when they get their first poor grade for an online course.
* Independence to work at your own pace as long as you make deadlines.
* Lectures are posted online so they are easily accessible at all times.
* Fewer assignments; more short quizzes.
* Ability to e-mail students or the professor for help.
* Work on the course when you have time; no set meeting times for class.
Balancing the Two
So how do you balance the two? Well, online courses will generally require more time to study than traditional courses because you aren’t being recited a lecture every class meeting. In fact, you don’t normally have class meetings for Internet-only classes. You should be able to balance the workload for both types of classes if you take the time to do so. Taking a few online courses and a few traditional courses during a semester is a good idea for a few reasons. First, you won’t be trekking back and forth between school and home. Second, you can take some generally easy online courses so that you aren’t getting to stressed out when finals time comes around.
Anyway, the key to balancing traditional and online courses in the same semester is to know how to budget time. You need to work on the most difficult class assignments and readings first because you probably won’t get them done if you do them last. Obviously, you also want to set a specific amount of time aside for each class and its work. Therefore, you should probably allow a few hours each week for each class, but you’ll want to plan it out so that your deadlines for traditional courses are met. You will probably have many more regular assignments in a regular class, so you’ll need to do them daily or weekly. For an online course, however, you are far less likely to have assignments due each week, aside from maybe a small quiz and discussion response. This works to your advantage because you can shift time over for your offline class when you need to. Honestly, meeting the deadlines of online courses are very simple, but you have to be able to manage your time wisely and motivate yourself to actually do the work.
Say that you have 5 classes, 3 of which are online and 2 of which are regular courses. Each week, you go to your 2 regular classes twice each. You have assignments due every class meeting, which happens to be on Mondays and Wednesdays. For your online classes, all three have a discussion question due weekly by Friday and a quiz every week that is due between Thursday and Saturday.
To get through these classes, you’ll want to try something like this:
* On Monday, you get your assignments for your two offline classes. You do them all Monday. Also, you make sure that you know what your assignments are for your online classes, but you don’t touch them on Monday.
* On Tuesday, you do some of the reading or assignments for your online courses. You have nothing to worry about for your traditional courses.
* On Wednesday, you get your new assignments for your regular course that are due on Monday. You set those assignments aside and continue to do reading or whatever for your online courses.
* On Thursday, you take any quizzes that you are prepared to do for your online courses. Also, you do any discussion questions you are ready for too. You still don’t touch the homework assignments for your traditional class. On this day, you also continue to work on any work you might have left over for the online courses.
* On Friday, you finish up all your online course work and do the discussion questions or quizzes. You might start to do your traditional course work today too.
* On Saturday, you finish any uncompleted quizzes. Saturday and Sunday are now devoted to doing your wok for the traditional courses that is due on Monday.
Rinse and repeat!
Balancing traditional and Internet-only courses is not that hard, but you need to make a clear and efficient plan to deal with all of the assignments. For Internet courses, you’ll find yourself doing plenty of reading that you absolutely cannot skip out on. You will do fine in all your courses as long as you leave enough time each week to get the work done. Of course, you can’t skip out on any assignments for either type of class because that will just start a slippery slope to a failing grade that you won’t be able to stop eventually.