When people hear about online classes, they tend to get a little freaked out. Who can blame them though? It’s a whole new learning environment that you have about one week to adjust to until the work starts piling in. There’s no need to worry though, because the online class environment is honestly not as scary as it may seem.
Important Information Before I Begin
This is so important that I put it under its only little heading. Make sure you talk to your guidance counselor about the credits you will receive for these courses. If you take algebra, some high schools won’t give you the math credits towards graduating, but instead they go in as elective credits. Another thing to know is that when you are applying to colleges, these classes will not show up with their course name on your transcript. Instead, it will show up as Online Class or Virtual High School. Make sure you have all the information about what kind of credits you’ll receive before signing up for online classes.
Anyways, let’s move on to the nitty gritty of taking online classes!
Types of Classes
Online classes are split up into three different categories: the APs, the academics, and the electives. The APs are, of course, exactly what they sound like: they’re AP classes that you take online ,and after you complete the class, you can choose whether to take the College Board AP exam. Be careful though; most online classes run on a semester schedule. This means you might finish the class in December when the test is in May. Make sure if you’re going to sign up for an online AP class, you know how much time is between the final class and the date of the test, or just sign up for the class during the spring semester.
The next type of class is your normal academic classes. These are your English, Math, Science, History and World Language courses. These classes are pretty similar to the ones you have in your own school. That being said, if you take some sort of lab science (chemistry, biology, etc.), then you have to be prepared to recreate labs at home. Out of these five subjects, many people say English and history are the closest to classroom learning.
Lastly you have your electives. These are your “fun” classes, like video game design or music theory. These are great classes to take if you have an interest and your school doesn’t provide a class meeting that interest.
When I walked into my school’s orientation for online classes, I was told the work load was going to be unbelievable. I’ve also heard that I’m not the only student who has been told this. Don’t worry though; it’s not as bad as your school coordinator will make it seem! This is just the strategy they use to separate the kids who want to work and the kids who want an easy A.
At first it’s going seem unbelievable, but just remember that’s because not only are you doing “classwork”, but “homework” too. In reality, the work load is roughly the same as normal class. Not only will you have classwork and homework, but you will also have tests and quizzes. Here’s a helpful hint: study. I know everything will seem easy at first glance, but online tests are just as hard as any other test you’ll take. Online classes are the same as regular classes, and you should spend the same amount of time doing work and study as you would any other class.
Online classes take a certain amount of responsibility. Unless you have an assigned time during you school schedule where you will being doing the work, you will most likely have to make a schedule for yourself. Don’t think you can just do everything the day before it’s due, because it’s impossible (much like in regular school). It’s a good idea to sit down and set aside certain times when you’ll do certain assignments.
Also, something to think about: you are communicating from people all around the world. Since your teacher might be on the other side of the country, he or she is not going to know if there is a huge snow storm that knocks out the power in your town for three days. It’s your responsibility to contact your teacher and tell him or her the issue. Most teachers are going to be understanding and give you extensions, but you need to contact them first.
Group work requires an extra amount of responsibility. While normally you might not have to access your online classes website every day, you might have to when in comes to group work. Your partition in group discussions could be crucial and you should be sure to be a avid part of the conversation. As with regular school work, make sure you get your part of the project or work done by the due date. It’s unfair to risk the other students getting a lower grade just because you didn’t do the work on time.
One thing important to remember while doing group work is that people can only read what you’re saying. This means be careful about making jokes and how you phrase things. Things that you mean to sound sarcastic or funny could really come off as offensive and rude. Follow the rule of if you question it, don’t say it. It can end up saving you from tons of issues down the road.
The Bottom Line
As you can see, an online class is a big responsibility to take on. This could be a good learning experience. These classes are a great way to learn self-discipline. Not only that, but it is a great way to meet kids from around the world. You could end up having kids from all different countries in your class. Personally I think online classes are something you should take advantage of if your school offers it. It’ll give a whole new learning opportunity and let you experience things you never thought you’d be able to experience while you are still in high school. Just remember that they are exactly like any other class you’d take and require the same amount of attention.