As the world economy relies more heavily on digital tools each day, higher education is following suit. Based on this trend, we were curious to learn what are online classes like compared to courses taken in a more traditional format?

What Are Online Classes Like?

Online classes include all the information a student needs to cultivate a sufficient understanding of the topic in question at a more reasonable price than students could expect to pay for campus-based classes; however, students are expected to internalize the relevant information with less robust access to academic support in the online iteration of a course.

While online classes may seem like a far cry from life on an idyllic New England campus, when the available tools are used properly, students in online classes can receive a rigorous and fulfilling education at a very reasonable price.

What Are Online Classes Like for My Career?

A study conducted by The Learning House found that nearly half of all students pursuing a degree online reported an increase in pay before they had even completed their degree. This was because online students were often working full time while pursuing a degree relevant to their present career field. Only with the flexibility offered by online courses can students reasonably expect to be pursuing a career and a higher education in the same field concurrently.

The flexibility of online education is beneficial to students who are not yet working in their preferred career field. Without the rigid time commitments commensurate with traditional higher education, students in online programs can choose when to complete their academic obligations interrupting no profitable pursuits in the immediate-term, making them more financially capable when the time comes to pivot to their desired career trajectory.

Besides facilitating greater profitability for students during their education, online classes also hamper students with fewer debts to pay down after their education. Students in a traditional degree program must pay for housing, transportation, and cost-of-living while their ability to work is limited by geography and time commitments. Students in online programs pay for tuition and books without impeding their ability to be profitable during their studies, which frees up long-term capital students in traditional programs to devote to burdensome loan payments.

What Are Online Classes Like in Terms of Format?

While online classes prevent students from interacting with their professors and their classmates in the traditional classroom environment, digital tools offer a modified version of every interaction a student could expect from an education at a brick-and-mortar university with a slightly more flexible iteration of deadlines for mandatory coursework.

Interaction With Professors and Classmates

Coursework and Deadlines

Assignments and Exams

Time to Completion

What Are Online Classes

Like in Terms of Material Requirements

A person is using a laptop and a notebook and pen for the online course he has taken

Photo by from Pexels

The material requirements for an online class typically include a suitable computer, workable software platforms for that computer, whatever reading material is required for your course or program, and a sufficiently reliable internet connection to perform the requisite tasks.

Most universities require students to submit essays in Microsoft Word format but check with your prospective university before you sign-up for any courses as an idiosyncratic word processing software can be expensive. You may have to purchase some books for your course; however, many universities are moving away from a reliance on bookstores in favor of free online reading material. Finally, make sure your laptop or PC is compatible with the LMS used by the university or universities you are interested in before you enroll in any courses.

What Are Online Classes Like for Mature Students

Online classes are very popular among mature students as they offer greater flexibility to prospective students who may have to balance the pressures of work and family commitments with the demands of their concurrent educational pursuits. For similar reasons, older students are often eager to complete their education at an accelerated rate to further their intermediate- to long-term career goals. There are three primary avenues by which students can achieve this goal.

Military Experience

Work Experience

Accelerated Programs


Man is using a laptop for his online course and beside him is his backpack

Photo by bruce m​​ars from Pexels

As you assess what are online classes like for a student in your situation, keep in mind that while online programs lack the traditional methodology of face-to-face instruction and support, online programs have an array of digital tools to support students in their pursuit of a degree with minimal constraints on professional pursuits and at a very reasonable price.

Featured Image by Rachel Scott from Pixabay