Although online colleges are growing in popularity, some students can still be a little apprehensive because they don’t know how they work. However, there’s no great mystery. In short, everything happens online and at your convenience.
An online class is, basically, just that. To attend class, you don’t go anywhere, just log in to the university’s system from your own home. This is where you can view assignments, download notes and course material, chat with fellow students, and upload any finished assignments for review by your professor. Most online classes are asynchronous, which means there is no specific time you will be required to log in and “attend” class. Rather, it’s up to you to determine when to study and complete your papers in order to have them in by the professor’s assigned deadline. However, some online university programs do require students to all log in simultaneously, so be sure to check to see how your prospective school is set up before enrolling.
Some online universities incorporate a higher degree of interactivity and live media into their class offerings, as well. For instance, even though the students are spread across the country, the instructor can still deliver a lecture to them thanks to quality improvements in video technology, allowing him or her to give a talk directly into a web-connected camera that streams the lecture live online. Students can often chat with each other while the lecture’s taking place, whether it’s through a third-party instant-messaging program or one run through the school’s online program. This incorporation of emerging and constantly developing technology into distance learning has helped online university students feel more united and less like isolated learners separated by cities, states, and countries.
Online university programs also vary in length, depending on a variety of factors including the level of degree being pursued (associate’s, bachelor’s, etc.) and the amount of courses you take each semester. For instance, a B.S. in accounting might require 180 hours of credit, while an associate’s degree in the same major would require half that. Most online university students don’t take a full-time class load each semester so that they can keep working full-time, while others decide to pursue an online degree full-time. As a result, the amount of time required to get a degree varies from student to student. It could be a couple years, or it could be three or four, or longer if you decide to attain a higher-level degree.
Ultimately, an online degree program is designed to fit your lifestyle, allowing you to work and study from the convenience of your own home.