Things I’d Change about my Online Program

I like my online program and how it’s set up, but there are some aspects of it that I don’t like. I wish I could change the following about my online program:

Assignment deadlines: Unlike on-campus class assignments that are normally due during class, our assignments are due anytime. I really mean anytime: 8:00am, noon, 5:00pm, 10:00pm, midnight, on holidays, or, of course, at class time. In the two semesters I’ve been an online student, I’ve had assignments due at all of those times (two assignments due on Easter, anyone?).

Luckily, it’s easier to keep track of the deadlines as the semester progresses because you start to see the pattern in that professor’s deadlines. I do wish I’d known that assignments can be due at any time; I admit that I’ve submitted a (small) assignment late before because it was due at 5:00pm, not midnight.

Peer interaction: Even though it’s possible to connect with your professors, online classes do limit the interaction you have with your peers. Students don’t often strike up conversations with each other before or after class, like they would in a traditional classroom, because you can’t talk to anyone during class without everyone hearing your conversation. However, classes tend to utilize “break-out sessions”, in which students are broken into smaller groups to work on assignments during class time. It’s possible to talk in these sessions, but often the assignment needs to be completed quickly so there isn’t time for off-topic discussions.

Since you may not talk to your peers about assignments as much, make sure you reach out to your professor with questions instead. Plus, you’ll get some brownie points for doing so!

Friendship opportunities: Due to the fact that we don’t talk to each other before or after class and we don’t spend time on campus, it’s harder to get to know our peers. Additionally, this may surprise you, but in-person interaction does provide something that even a webcam can’t duplicate. I recently met with a classmate in-person for the first time, and that’s when I realized we get along well. Even though we had interacted online, it was difficult to get to know her through a webcam.

Group projects: Group projects help us meet other online students, but they can be a challenge due to everyone’s varying schedules. Some students work full-time, some go to school full-time, others have families, and some juggle all three responsibilities. Therefore, it’s difficult for everyone to communicate, let alone find a time to meet online. Meeting in-person simply isn’t an option because students can live anywhere in the world (literally).

Course offerings: On-campus students can take courses offered on-campus as well as online. Online students, however, can only take online classes. Online students are also limited to the minors offered completely online (hence why I don’t have a minor).

School spirit: Being an online student takes away some of the school pride that on-campus students have for their institution. We get emails about campus events, but most of the time we’re unable to attend. What’s worse is that most of these events give out free food or college swag that can only be claimed in-person.

Online programs are great, but they do have some negative aspects. I hope this post helped you understand online programs better, and please comment below with questions!

Traditional Students

Online Students

Assignment deadlines

During class

Anytime

Peer interaction

Yes

Some

Friendship opportunities

Countless

Some

Group projects

In-person

Virtual

Course offerings

On-campus and online

Online only

School spirit

Yes

Some