Taking online courses can benefit you

Online classes are not that terrible. I remember being worried about taking an online course for the first time in college: My academic advisor definitely did not recommend it, and my peers thought I was crazy. Any time I told people I was taking an online course, they wished me luck as if I was going to bootcamp.

The truth is, ever since I took the risk of enrolling in an online course, I got hooked. It could be the fact that Portland State University’s distance education system is phenomenal—any PSU student who may be too afraid of trying it out should know that it is really not that bad.

It is often said that distance education is not for everyone. However, as an online-student veteran, I believe any type of student can benefit from an online course.

The same people who consider me crazy also assume I’m taking online classes either because I have kids to raise or am holding down a full-time job. However, I am simply a regular, 20-year-old college kid who takes 16 credits a quarter. I do not have kids, and though I do have a job, I only work part-time, which makes being a full-time student my priority.

Every quarter, I make it a point to register for both online and on-campus classes. This type of schedule benefits me the most as a PSU student.

For one thing, online courses make it easier for me to balance my time during the day. As an English major and writing minor, staying up until five in the morning to finish a paper is already something normal in my life. It helps to not have to worry about getting enough sleep to make it to a morning class.

Furthermore, I have the ability to work on assignments or participate in class at any time of the day. Having to come to campus every Tuesday and Thursday at a specific time already limits my weekly schedule a lot. Taking the rest of my courses online allows me to work while making dinner or doing laundry.

Also, if you live off campus like me and you hate the commute to campus, online classes are your best friends. It is much more convenient to stay at home and participate in class straight from your bedroom—even in pajamas!

Imagine the relief of not having to pay for parking, ride the MAX or bike to campus on a rainy day (which is almost everyday).

Some say that students aren’t really learning with online courses. However, online professors dedicate the same amount of time (if not more) to students as on-campus instructors do.

In the several online courses I have taken, each professor had their way of conducting lectures. One of my professors recorded videos of himself conducting a lecture and posted them weekly. We were required to view them, especially because the questions on our weekly quizzes were based on his lectures.

One of my current instructors provides us a document of written lecture notes every week, and reading it sounds very similar to how an on-campus professor would facilitate a class.

Additionally, if you’ve always struggled with participation points in on-campus classes, you can earn the points you’ve been lacking by signing up for an online course. Unlike in many of the classes we take on campus, it is much easier to participate, interact and discuss with your classmates and your professor in an online forum.

Most of these courses offer/require a weekly discussion for students, allowing everyone to share their thoughts about the week’s lesson, as well as the chance to offer comments, insights or suggestions on classmate’s posts.

Unfortunately, due to many factors, we sometimes aren’t given this equal opportunity in a regular on-campus class. Some students can get carried away with their thoughts, reducing the time for other students to share their input. It comes down to time itself: Not everyone can talk within a limited time period, especially if professors have to fit in lectures and readings.

Lastly, you might think that taking an online course means being okay with learning on your own. However, that is not necessarily the case.

In both on-campus and online courses, students are encouraged to test the potential of their minds. Professors challenge us to be independent learners, whether it be in a classroom or at home. On-campus instructors do not hold the hands of students and tell them the right answers, nor do those who teach online.

So really, if you feel like you could use the extra time, some flexibility or even more sleep in your life, consider signing up for online courses.