How much time do online college classes require?

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Answered by: Katharine, An Expert in the Attend College Online Category
Making Time for Homework: What to Expect from Online College Courses

With the advent of the Internet, continuing education has become easier than ever. Online college classes make it possible for adults to increase their earning potential or pursue a career change while continuing to work their current job. Especially for those whose jobs wouldn't allow time for attending classes, the flexibility of an online degree program enables adults to go to school around their work schedule -- whatever that may be -- instead of the other way around.

Online classes can be intimidating, though, especially to someone who is new to them. Many adults hesitate to register because they are unsure of how much time each class will require. Although you have the freedom to do your coursework whenever you want, rather than attending classes on specific days and times each week, your teacher will still have expectations and deadlines that you will have to meet in order to do well in the class. Remember that your coursework accounts for not only the homework you would be assigned in a normal class, but also the lost time that you would have spent in the classroom: listening to lectures, doing in-class projects, and taking exams.

In general, every online class will have a variety of types of assignments that you have to complete:

1. Textbook reading and lectures: Just like in a traditional class, you will be assigned reading for each week. Some professors also post lectures on the class site, which can be any combination of text, visual, or audio materials, as well as links to websites with more information. In online classes, it is your responsibility to learn the materials -- since you don't passively attend lectures in a classroom setting -- so be sure to read everything that the instructor assigns.

2. Forum participation: Online professors often make up for the lack of classroom participation by requiring that students post on a regular basis in the class forum, usually their reactions to the week's reading, or a short writing assignment on a related topic.

3. Homework assignments: Just like in a traditional classroom, you may be given regular homework assignments, such as short essays or math exercises to do with each chapter in the textbook.

4. Papers and projects: Online classes have papers and projects, just like any other class. Depending on the type of class you are taking, you may be assigned a research paper, or be asked to put together a final project. Some online courses even require you to create presentations using video or PowerPoint software, which your classmates can watch or read online.

5. Quizzes and exams: Instead of taking your exams in the classroom, you will most likely be taking them online -- although some colleges with physical campuses may require you to take your exams in the testing center. Online exams often have time limits to ensure that you truly learned the information, and are not simply looking every question up in the textbook (or on Google!).

As you can see, online college classes can be a lot of work. In general you should expect to spend as much time on an online course as you would on any other class, including the time you would have spent inside the classroom. For many students, however, the flexibility of being able to complete your coursework on your own schedule turns an impossible dream into an achievable goal, making the workload well worth the reward.

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