Glendale Community College: Online or on campus?

Which style of class do you prefer, online classes or actually being in the classroom? Are you thinking of switching classroom mediums this semester or is your class only offered in a format you’ve never tried? Well, I’ve taken both and there are definitely a great deal of pros and cons to both types.

I started college taking online classes. I chose to do online because it was cheaper than at a university where I would have had to pay hundreds of dollars for parking. At Glendale Community College, we are lucky enough to have free parking!

There were other reasons I chose to go online though. I couldn’t imagine how I was going to be able to spend 4+ hours in a classroom everyday and still work enough hours at my minimum wage job to be able to afford the next semester. Taking classes via the Internet allowed me to work full time, which also opened up better job opportunities, and do my homework at night and on weekends – times when many classes I needed weren’t even offered.

So if you have all the time in the world and lots of money (or scholarships) and these two points are irrelevant for you — Why else would you choose to take classes online? Maybe you’re like me and you’re just not a people person. I dread group projects, I sincerely believe that there is a fairly large gap in work ethic between me and many of my peers… I won’t say who works harder. Plus, I’ll admit, I like things my way most of the time and for some reason, everyone else seems to like things their way as well.

Driving… gas, parking permits, car registration, car insurance (which goes up if you drive more), traffic, rush hour traffic, really? Need I say more?

Finally, I have to work at whose pace? “The group is only as strong as its weakest person.” I want to jump in and just do the assignment and move on to the next one when I’m done. If I finish the class two weeks early that’s awesome, but if I’m two weeks ahead and I get really sick one week or want to go on vacation, I’m still on track. I do not want to write my paper in the standard order. I want to jump around and do my body paragraphs first and my intro last so just give me a due date, don’t make me show you step by step in the classroom please.

So I thought online classes would work great for me. And, if you fit most of my personality above, online classes would probably be a great option for you.

It turns out, I’m a pretty complicated person – go figure! Apparently online classes are so not for me. I can be, well I am, a very motivated, self-driven person, but when the end is four years down the road, and your textbook is on the same screen as your Facebook, it’s a bit easier to run off track. Needless to say, that wasn’t my best semester. Finally, I’m pretty sure I spend enough time at a computer without spending my class time staring at the screen too.

So I went to take classes in person. As I said earlier, luckily our campus doesn’t have any extra fees to be able to do so. This is ultimately where I ended up, a fellow Gaucho as yourself. Taking classes in the traditional classroom setting, was something I enjoyed much more. When I didn’t understand content, I could actually ask someone! I know you can do this in online classes, but it’s so slow and if your answer wasn’t quite what you were looking for because your initial email didn’t describe your question clearly enough, you had to wait all over again – um, assignment deadlines?

Lectures are, a lot of times for me, much easier to understand than college textbooks written for graduate school but used in entry-level classes. And, there is less writing! I realized that because an instructor doesn’t see you paying attention or hear you asking questions and participating in discussions online, the only real way for a teacher to make sure you learn the material is to have you read a lot and write even more. Classes in person typically seem to have less writing assignments, they can mix in presentations, pop-quizzes and more to make sure you are understanding as you go.

Finally, did you know there was so much to do on our college campus? Cool stuff too! I didn’t; not on-line. Taking classes on campus was much more fun. I know, I’m not a social person, but when I have a tight group of friends it’s nice to see them every other day.

I didn’t even lose work time when enrolled on campus. I just took one less class and it seems every semester the college offers more and more evening classes. I was even able to work with my current employer to push my workday back an hour to get to school on time. It turns out that good employers are all for you furthering your education.

So if you have a split personality, or you’re just not a good self-motivator, you may want to stick to taking classes in person.

Want one more time-flexible option? Open entry/Open Exit, also hidden as OE/OE. These are classes that start on any Monday you want them to within that semester! Yes, they are all online, but it helped me with my workload. I could start one class, get a good three-week jump on it and get a feel for how hard and time-consuming the class will be, then add a second and maybe a third class to my semester load. This is a great option in the summer when courses are much shorter, and therefore require much more work per week.

For a little time in the classroom and more time online, check out hybrid classes. Instead of meeting 2-3 times per week, you’ll meet once a week on campus and do the rest online.

So what are you? Are you a net person or a classroom person? Are you able to take classes in the style you prefer or are you someone who can buckle down and do great at a class no matter how it’s delivered?


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