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The Mass Media

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Everyone should give online classes a try

There is a college ideal many people often think of; it’s the freshman driving in with their parents, unloading stuff into their dorm room, meeting their nice new roommate (who will be their instant best friend), and taking a variety of general education classes in large lecture halls. We see this image in countless films and other media outlets. 

However, that image doesn’t accurately describe the experiences of all college students, especially not that of all students at the UMass Boston. Our university is still primarily a commuter school; we have students from many different countries, and class sizes vary a good deal. This is a state university, which allows options for a wide variety of students.

One of those options, which people do not often consider, is online classes. UMass Boston offers a good deal of classes online. They even have some programs that are created to be hybrid or entirely online options. (1)

This is beneficial for a wide range of people. In my case, it’s helpful due to health problems I experience. Not being required to go on campus every day is a huge blessing to me, which is why I’ve signed up for all online classes for the past three semesters. If you have mobility issues or other disabilities that make classes on campus difficult, online courses could be a wonderful option for you too.

It’s also helpful for people who live further out. You don’t have to travel in as much as you would normally, even if you just take a couple of your classes online. An ideal way to set this up is to find some courses on campus that meet on the same day(s), then take the rest online.  

Taking online classes allows you to dictate your own schedule more. There are due dates for work, but the rest is up to you. You can decide whether you want to work on Spanish every Monday, while your poetry class work is reserved for Wednesday nights, or whether you would prefer to work on them both a bit each day.

That fact also makes it ideal for students who have jobs. You can plan to do your school work on breaks, when you get home, or on the weekends. You decide when you will watch the required documentary or read the chapters. You aren’t needed in a specific building at a certain time for the lecture, so there’s no need to worry about your academic schedule clashing with your work schedule.

I’ve found that this style of learning has also provided a greater challenge for me. Online classes, though it offers a lot of freedom in your time management, are not easy courses. The professors often require a heavier workload than they do during in-person classes, to make up for the differences in the two. Instead of being able to just pose a few simple questions during a discussion, you instead will likely have to write some paragraphs in the discussion boards online. The courses are also largely essay-based, since students could easily use their textbooks or Google answers during quizzes.

What may be one of the most difficult yet beneficial things though, is the self-sufficiency and self-discipline you develop while taking online classes. You need to know how to manage your own work and schedule. There’s rarely group projects. Succeeding in an online class takes a high level of dedication, which makes the courses great practice for improving those skills in yourself.

Overall, I recommend that all students try taking at least one online course during their time here. It can help you learn more about your personal learning style, as well as challenge you to think and work in new ways.

(1) https://online.umb.edu/programs