What High School Students Should Expect From Online University Classes

There are many reasons to consider taking an online college course prior to graduating high school. It is a great way to get a jumpstart on earning college credit. Online courses can also prepare you for what you will encounter in a typical college class. However, you should be aware of the differences between taking a class online and taking one on campus. It pays to familiarize yourself with the features of the virtual classroom.

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Online Communication

Learning how to navigate the course is key to success in the virtual classroom. Instructors will expect you not just to log in but also to engage with others. Participation requires that you communicate with other students in the course message board or chat room. Instructors will often post a question and expect a response from every student. Likewise, you may be expected to communicate with the instructor directly throughout the course via email or its internal message system.

Course Materials Platform

Online courses typically come with tools that guide you through the course material. These resources often include navigation areas, such as those found on some websites. When you dig deeper into the course, you may find that its information is organized into modules. These modules resemble units in a textbook, each with its own course objectives. Sometimes, the only way to progress to the next module is to successfully complete the requirements of the preceding one. Be sure to keep pace.


Some online classes include opportunities to interact in real time with your instructor and peers. These webinars often require the use of a headset or webcam. Some students prefer live webinars as they feel as if they are in a physical classroom. These students find that they learn best in a live environment, while others prefer to review video and audio lectures after the fact. You should decide what is most conducive to your particular learning style.

A myth persists that online courses are easy. This is not so. Universities require most online classes to duplicate the work requirements found in their brick-and-mortar counterparts. You will be reading, taking quizzes and tests, and interacting with your peers. Online classes also require a slight learning curve the first time you take one. Many students report that enrolling in an online college course is a great way to get a feel for what college is like—while avoiding commuting and lines at the dining hall.

If you’re thinking of continuing your education more after high school, read these tips: Why You Should Continue Your Education After High School

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