Are Online Courses Worth Taking? Here’s How Students Feel.

COD-bound high school students were shut in by the pandemic and are now faced with the option of returning to class in person or staying online. How do they feel about it?


Noah McBrien, Staff Writer

COD-bound high school students were shut in by the pandemic while in high school and are now recovering from years of taking online courses. Mia Cheaure is one of those students.

Cheaure is a first-year student at COD planning on majoring in forensics. She, like many first-year students, had online courses in high school, and she came away with a bad impression.

“My sophomore year, everything was remote,” she said. “The school has a system that, as long as you turn in assignments on time, you get points for it.”

She said she felt this was a bad decision on the part of every party involved.

”I’m still in the mindset that as long as I do the work, I don’t need to pay attention.”

Cheaure said she feels free to distract herself while in online classes because she knows that as long as she submits her work, the teachers don’t know she’s not paying attention in class. She did warn that this was not smart to do. Furthermore, she feels there is an urgency to cheat in online classes. Coming out of high school, her effort has been in breaking these old habits. She wants to do well in her classes because, for the first time, she is paying for her education.

What’s the difference in how you connect with other students in an online course? To Cheaure, the difference is there is no real room to have any conversation online. 

“There’s no urgency to participate,” she said, “I show up, click on a link, and do the work assigned to me.”

Cheaure said she feels similarly about the student-teacher relationship: Teachers try to engage students, but students refrain from unmuting or turning on their cameras. Because of her engagement in in-person courses, Cheaure notices people are willing to talk, which gives her a more enjoyable college experience.

Another freshman, Hubert Mazur, is majoring in cybersecurity and is a member of the computer science club. He has enough experience in computer science to “read a program and already know what’s happening.” So, now taking a programming course online, how does he feel about it?

“Most of the time, it’s pretty clear what they need,” he said regarding the assignments and quizzes. ”It’s not hard.” So why does he take his programming course online?

Mazur described in-person as having a set pace, but with online courses everything you need to complete the course is accessible to you from the start. He said in-person courses “feel like a waste of time when you can get ahead on your own.”

Computer programming can be complicated. But even in Mazur’s case, he feels it’s easy to contact his professor about a problem through email. “Most of the time it’s pretty clear what they need,” he said, “you just have to code a program.”

Many students share Mazur’s sentiment. Online courses provide a learning environment in which students can go at their own pace. Meaning students who want to take their time with the material have that ability.

A senior, Maggie Schmidt, has taken online courses and is only taking fully online courses for her final semester. She is majoring in marketing.

She said in-person courses were nice because she got more of a college experience. “But,” she added, “I’m not super social.” She didn’t find many new friends. She finished high school online, so she had a comfortable transition into online courses in college.

Schmidt said, “I enjoy being able to go at my own pace,” adding that she can do her work at “2:00 a.m. or 2:00 p.m.” She explained that it has helped her in succeeding at work and accomplishing other personal goals. Convenience was the deciding factor for her.

Regarding her study habits, she said they “aren’t necessarily habits,” because she tends to be inconsistent. She added that she always found Quizlet to be helpful. “I like to write things down at least once or a few times.”

When asked about her contact with teachers, Schmidt said, “Yes, I always felt able to do so.” She said she always checks Rate My Professor before enrolling to ensure the professor is responsive to students.

But, when asked about her contact with other students online, she said, “I haven’t made any connections with anyone.”

When discussing why she chose online courses on a more personal level, Schmidt said, “I tried to take a class right after high school, but I dropped it.” After this, she took a break to work and eventually came back to college. 

According to an internal email at COD, during the 2021 fall semester, more than 40% more undergraduate students took online courses than in-person ones. More recently, from Fall 2021 to now, COD experienced a surge in undergraduate students taking in-person courses of nearly 60%. But, in that same time frame, attendance in fully online-courses only fell approximately 10%. So online courses, especially those that are fully online, continue to enable students to enroll at COD who would otherwise not be able to.