Online Classes: Friend or Foe?

Ashley Hunt

As college students, we naturally want to take the easy class, get the easy A and take the easy road. Many think this means take an online class.

Sure it seems easy — you don’t have to attend actual class and get up at 7:30 a.m. to catch the CyRide in time for your 8 a.m. class.

But are online classes really an easy A? Here are some advantages and disadvantages I found with online classes.


You don’t have to wake up early. You can do your coursework any time of the day. So if you’re not a morning person, do your work in the afternoon. If you work during the day, do class work in the evening. It’s really whatever works best with your schedule.

You can take the class from anywhere. If you’re sick or you’re going to be out of town, you don’t have to worry about falling behind in your course load — at least for that class.

It’s super flexible. Some classes have assignments due every week or every few days, but some classes don’t have any due dates. As long as you get everything done by the last day of the course, you’re good to go. So you can get all of your work done the very first week of classes and stop worrying — or you can procrastinate it until the very last week.

You can wear your pajamas. Sure, you will go to class and see a lot of students wearing sweats and pajama shorts, but if you’re taking the class from home, you don’t have to worry about what you wear at all. You don’t even have to shower if you don’t want to.

You can avoid the bad weather. If there’s a blizzard outside or it’s pouring cats and dogs you can stay inside and get your class done from your warm and dry room.

You don’t have to stress about taking notes. Everything is offered online. Many classes just post PowerPoint presentations online, so you don’t have to jot down notes as your professor lectures. When you study for your test you can just pull up those old PowerPoints.


You need good time management skills. We all may think that we are good at managing our time and not procrastinating, but the truth comes out in an online class. Since you don’t have to attend class physically, it’s easy to put the course work off or forget about the class entirely. 

And with those classes that have everything due at the end of the semester, you might think you have all the time in the world to get things done. However, you’ll probably find the end sneaks up on you, and you’re stuck spending hours upon hours and a lot of late nights trying to play catch up.

You don’t make a connection with your professor. Online classes can feel very impersonal. Often you don’t have a face to go with your professor’s name, and you might feel like you’re just a number to the instructor. Some classes are taught by faculty here at Iowa State and allow for you to schedule time to meet with them, but many of them have instructors located off campus. Often, the only way to contact them is through email or online.

Sometimes it’s hard to learn things without hands-on experience or direct contact with an instructor. Reading how to do a math problem from the book is sometimes more difficult than having someone explain how to do the problem step-by-step.

You lack making connections with other students. When students sit in class, they often sit in the same spot every day. This way, they sit by the same students and are not only to make new friends but are able to have someone to contact for help in something they don’t understand. You probably won’t be able to find a study buddy in an online class.


In all, online classes are up to you and your preferences. Whether you are ready and capable of taking an online class depends on your personal study habits and your learning style. I’m not that great at mathematics, so in my experience I have found it’s probably better for me to take my math courses in person. Often online classes seem like a good idea at the time, but they might not be as easy as you think.