Online Student Q and A

I have noticed that some people express an interest in being an online student, but they don’t follow through because they have so many unanswered questions and don’t know where to find answers. Never fear, an online student is here! I’ve got some answers to the most commonly asked questions about online education!

Q. Is being an online student hard?

A. Well, it’s not easy! But it depends on what you consider “hard.” The reason I say it isn’t easy is because I feel like the workload is sometimes higher than face-to-face classes. Because there is no lecture to attend, you must read each assigned chapter. You spend a lot of time teaching yourself, which I love! But it isn’t for everyone. Online professors usually require you to post to the class discussion board weekly, or every other week. That can become time consuming.

BUT… being an online student has it’s perks, like I can “go to class” whenever I want, wherever I was (as long as there is wifi) and I can wear what I want (some of you do this in face-to-face classes anyway).

Q. How does advising work?

A. Advising happens online for most. You usually have to pull up your own information online (MyMav), then you figure out what classes you need to take next. It is up to you to email your advisor and tell him/her what classes you will be signing up for. They may have to unlock some classes for you, check for prerequisites, or make sure this class is available. The advisors are ALWAYS there for you through email and phone. You are not completely on your own just because you’re an online student. You still have a support system!

UAC Staff
Some of our UTA advisors. Courtesy of

Q. Will I only be using e-books?

A. No. I personally don’t like eBooks and never use them for college. Just like in face-to-face classes, you are free to get any type of book you like, as long as it is the assigned book for the course! So you don’t HAVE to get e-books, but you can get them if you like.

Q. I can cheat on tests, right? No one will know.

A. NOPE! Most tests are timed and use something called “lock down browser.” This means that you are prevented from opening any other windows on your computer while taking the test. Some professors even require you to record yourself taking the test with a webcam to ensure that you are not cheating. Because tests have a time limit, you really don’t have time to look up answers. However, some professors encourage you to use notes on tests that aren’t timed. This is rare and they will let you know ahead of time!

Q. Will online courses cost less/more than face-to-face?

A. At UTA, no. The prices are the same (at least from my experience). However, some universities change the prices for strictly online programs. This is usually because you are not being charged for gym fees, health clinic fees, and all that other good stuff that is included in your tuition, which means that you cannot use these services. At UTA, in most cases, you are still charged for these services, so you are still able to use them.

That’s all I’ve got for now! Feel free to send me any online questions you may have and I will answer to the best of my ability.

Online Communication Etiquette

As an online student, I communicate with professors via email 90% of the time. The other 10% is through discussion boards and webinars for class. Communication for online courses is a bit different from face-to-face courses, but email is still what students and professors are using to communicate most of the time. I have seen a statement about communication etiquette in just about every syllabus this semester. But what is communication etiquette? And why do we need to use it when interacting with professors?

A students works on a computer in the Central Library.
Courtesy of

Professors are professionals, and could be potential employers. Professors could be the door to your big career break. Maintaining a professional attitude as a student will let your professor know that you intend to be a professional in the work world.

Look at the following statements and decide for yourself which one is easier to understand, sounds most professional, and looks best:

“Was absent Tuesday. Missed test. Free to retake it on Friday. Thx.”

“Hello Professor. Due to a car accident, I was unable to make it to CRCJ 4333 – section 002 on Tuesday at 8am. I understand that I missed a test and that you have retake policies. As stated in the syllabus, I am allowed one retake before the week ends. I am available Friday after my 1pm class. Please let me know a time that we can meet to further discuss this issue. Best, Student name.”

Although the 2nd one seems a little longer, it shows that you CARE and have respect for the professor.

Student uses a laptop near the University Center.

Some general rules for communicating with your professor…

  1. Never use slang or text language. Sure you may be sending that email from your phone, but using “u” instead of “you” is unacceptable. I actually had a professor use “u” in an email to me. It made me think a little less of their professionalism. I will discuss this incident more in a later blog post! Stay tuned!
  1. Always say the course number, section number, and time of the class in the email. Some professors prefer that you put the course number and section number in the subject of the email. I’ve noticed that this usually results in a quicker reply. Remember that professors have hundreds of students and sometimes teach up to 7 courses.
  1. Include your student ID number. There are probably several students named “Taylor Smith” in the student directory. Even if you think you have a unique name, the student directory still has some alumni from years ago. If the professor can locate you with your student ID, it makes it more efficient for them to help you with your issue, especially if it is concerning a grade.
  1. If it takes you more than 2 paragraphs to discuss your issue in email, make an appointment. Most professors are more than happy to help you with anything during office hours. If the issue takes a while to explain, it is probably best said, and taken care of, in person.
  1. NEVER send any emails on the following subjects:
  •       “Can I have extra credit?” (Unless the syllabus says you can email for extra credit.)
  •       “Can I turn in an assignment late?” (Unless you have a LEGIT, REAL reason to do so.)
  •       “What did I miss in class today?”
  •       “What is due this week?” (It’s on the syllabus.)
  •       “When is the test?” (It’s on the syllabus.)

I hope that some of these tips help you!






Pros and Cons of Online Classes

So, you’re considering online classes… but you’re still unsure about it. I became a strictly online student this semester, but I’ve been taking online classes for about 2 years now. I will share with you some of the pros and cons of taking online classes.

Photo courtesy of

Let’s start with the pros.

  1. Flexible schedule. You can do school whenever you want, wherever you want! Some professors require online meetings, or will set time frames for when work is due, but you can generally create your own schedule.
  1. Work at your own pace… sometimes. Some professors give you all of the work up front and allow you to finish ahead of time. Some professors only release assignments a few weeks before they are due. It depends on who you have as a professor, but I really appreciate the ones that allow working ahead!
  1. If you enjoy reading, you’ll love online classes. Most are very reading intensive since the lecture component is cut out of online class. I enjoy this, but it isn’t for everyone.
  1. It’s easier to work. If you have a part time job, you will no longer have to worry about planning your hours around class time. You can now plan school around work, which is really great! It may even allow you to work a few extra hours.
Photo courtesy of

Sounds great, right? Here are some cons.

  1. You may forget to do classwork. A friend of mine was taking online classes and totally forgot about one of his classes, causing him to fail it. The key to preventing this is making a to do list. The fact that you aren’t in a face-to-face class everyday makes it easy to forget what you actually need to do for class. I keep a journal that is strictly for class to-dos.
  1. The Internet sometimes sucks. ALL classes require an Internet connection. As I’m sure you know, the Internet is more unpredictable than the Texas weather. I’ve been in the middle of a test before and had the Internet cut out. I had to retake the test, which wasn’t fun.
  1. It’s harder to meet potential coworkers and colleagues. Many of the people I met in my in-person classes are people I know I will see in the field throughout my career. Although professors try to replicate this through online discussion boards, web meetings, and email, it’s impossible to completely simulate the face-to-face meetings. This only means that networking is going to be harder, which doesn’t hurt every career, but may be crucial to some.
  1. You may actually have more work. One of my classes requires weekly discussion board postings. These really add to my workload. But some of my classes only require 3 tests for the entire semester. Again, it depends on what kind of professor you have. It’s kind of luck and chance taking an online course.

The best way to decide if online classes are for you is to make a list of the pros and cons you think that you would encounter. I started by only taking one online class per semester. That way, if I decided it wasn’t for me, I didn’t have to take another online class the next semester.

Good luck!