Summer Classes: Online vs. Seated

Monday, July 18, 2016



As I mentioned in my post about summer classes last summer, I'm a really big fan of taking classes during summer so that they're out of the way and you're more likely to graduate early. They're so simple and don't take that much time, I think it's crazy not to take advantage of summer classes.

I've been taking my summer classes at a community college and then transferring them back to my university because it's cheaper, more convenient for me, and they're honestly easier. Last summer, most of my classes were in person and I only had one online. This summer I was in two classes and they were both online so I never visited campus.

After experiencing a summer of classes in person and a summer of classes online, I thought I would do a post about the pros and cons of each so that you can make an informed decision if you choose to take summer classes throughout your time in college.

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Pros of Online Classes

1. You're free to travel and live your life --- I was able to travel for three weeks straight because I could keep up with all of my work through the Internet. I could also do my assignments morning, afternoon, or night depending on my plans for the day.

2.  You can go at your own pace --- There are typically due dates each week for assignments in an online class so you can't fall behind much, but you can definitely get ahead. When I knew I was going to be busy, I did my work two weeks ahead of time but when I was home, I took my time and really focused on learning.

3. No social contact! --- I love online classes because you don't have to engage with other students aside from some discussion boards and I feel so much less pressure that way. As an introvert, I loved not having to see a teacher and fellow students everyday.

Cons of Online Classes

1. It can be more difficult to get help --- If you're not understanding something, it's a lot easier to have it explained in person but that's difficult in online classes. Make sure you understand how the features of the website work before your class gets started in case you need to make a trip to campus for help.

2. A lot of self teaching is involved --- Even though most teachers provide powerpoints and assignments are designed to help you learn, you might have to spend a lot of time with the textbook. If you like taking notes during lectures, online classes might be an adjustment for you.

3. No personal relationship with the professor --- In my experience, professors are more flexible when they know your face, have spoken to you, and believe you are a good student. Developing this relationship is helpful when you need an extension or want to question a grade, but this usually doesn't exist in online classes.

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Pros of Seated Classes

1. Content is more likely to be current and relatable --- All of my online classes have used information and examples from previous years because they don't update the program yearly. Professors in seated classes almost always discuss how their class relates to current events and use recent examples which makes the class a little more interesting.

2. You're able to make connections --- A professor you see everyday is a much better candidate for writing your recommendations and connecting you with opportunities because they knew you personally and can judge more than just your work quality.

3. You have a regular schedule --- If keeping a schedule is important to you then seated classes are great because they always happen at the same time and this keeps you accountable. Sometimes you'll have assignments for the next class period as well so you know you have to do them at a certain time.

Cons of Seated Classes

1. You have to be in class --- Because summer semesters are so short, it's almost impossible for you to miss class. You might get one or two absences but that's about it. If you are going to be traveling a lot during the summer, a seated class is not a good idea.

2. There's typically more work involved --- I'm sure this varies but I've noticed that seated classes involve classwork AND homework, while online classes basically just have weekly assignments. The work probably equals out to the same level of difficulty, but sometimes it gets tedious.

3. You have to look presentable everyday --- During summer, I love being at home in casual clothes without makeup. When I had classes, I felt obligated to look decent and professional. It gets old when you're doing hair and makeup for just an hour of class during the heat of the summer.

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You'll have to take this information with a grain of salt because it is my opinion from my personal experience, but I can say that I had a good experience in both my online and seated classes. I think the most important factors to consider in the decision are your availability and learning style.

If you really really need a specific class during summer, you should take it regardless of whether it's online or in person. You'll do fine in either if you work hard and it's worth making the adjustments so that you're on schedule during the school year.

I hope this post helped give an understanding of the difference between online and seated classes during the summer and I would love to know which you prefer! 

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