10 Common Misconceptions About Online Courses

by | Dec 19, 2019

Written by Kendall Job, Editorial Intern


Many who are skeptical of online courses often are not aware of the myths involved with the topic as a whole. Sometimes, students make assumptions about online learning if they are nervous or hesitant about trying one out. So, here are 10 common misconceptions students may have about taking online classes that have been dispelled! 

Misconception 1: Online classes are “blow-off” classes 

Online courses actually tend to be about the same amount of work as a traditional class. They can even be more rigorous than usual since many are completed in a much shorter span of time than a full 16 week semester. Take your time to get organized so you don’t miss anything by not working consistently and setting aside time each week designated to working through and completing the online coursework. 

Misconception 2: There are no time limits 

Due dates are definitely still a thing in online courses, just as they are in a traditional classroom. Yes, some of them may be very spread out throughout the course, but if you fall too far behind on the work, you run the risk of having to cram or even failing the course if you do not complete all of the required work on time. You must hold yourself accountable to ensure you finish your work by the time it is due. 

Misconception 3: They’re lower quality than traditional classes 

Some think that online courses are not held to the same standard that in-person ones are. This is a huge myth that needs to be disregarded. Sure, there can be courses that are designed poorly for online, but the same is true for regular courses as well. Many online courses go through a design process to make sure they are all easily accessible, formatted in a functional manner and are highly organized so there are no quality problems with material or learning resources throughout the course. 

Misconception 4: Online credit doesn’t transfer 

Some students worry that the credit they receive from taking online courses will not transfer to a university they attend later or toward their degree credits and requirements. While you should check to ensure the courses transfer would you change schools or majors or be a part of an advanced degree program, most universities view online classes as being just as valid and transferable as traditional classes held in-person. In addition, transferology.com is a great resource for finding which courses will transfer to specific schools and for what requirements. 

Misconception 5: The instructor doesn’t actually teach 

While it may feel as though there is less interaction in the course overall because you cannot see your instructor, they still have so much to teach you! Some online courses have a live lecture component, where you can hear the voice of your professor as they teach the lesson in real-time. Your online instructor still spent hours upon hours designing the course to be fit for an online environment, created the assignments and exams and posted lecture slides and notes. There are so many ways to learn from them! 

Misconception 6: There’s no interaction with your classmates 

This one is simply not true! Yes, you may not see or hear your classmates in a real-life classroom, but there are still several opportunities for interaction when taking an online course. Discussion boards, peer reviews, group chats or Skype calls for group projects… the options are endless! Making connections and interacting with your fellow online classmates can help lead you to success in the course overall. 

Misconception 7: Online courses require less work 

There is no one to hold you accountable for online coursework but yourself and these courses still require work. Typically, online courses require the same amount of time as a traditional course and are just as rigorous and challenging, as well. An online course likely has more work figured into each chapter or module for a week since there are usually no meeting times for the class. They are usually shorter in length, meaning 16 weeks' worth of coursework is condensed into just 8 weeks. There is often more to do in a week to stay on track in passing the course with flying colors. 

Misconception 8: You must be good with computers 

Yes, you do need to possess some basic technical skills for online learning, like how to connect to the internet or navigate a browser. In general, though, many of the tools and programs you will likely be working with have familiar aspects and functions. In addition, many online courses offer several tutorials, directions, and links to help you out in case you have questions or run into issues when using the course platform. Your instructor and fellow students are also great resources to turn to if you ever have questions or problems with the assignments and activities throughout your course. 

Misconception 9: Employers don’t respect online learning 

Some do not believe that online courses are the same amount of work as a typical course held in a traditional classroom. However, since they are the same amount of rigor, if not more, like a traditional course, many employers still view online courses as respected and practical. Especially in an advanced degree program and if you have a career at the same time, employers will respect and notice your efforts in taking the time to further your education and professional knowledge and skills in your field. 

Misconception 10: You can’t grow your network from an online course 

While there may be no in-person interaction in an online class, there is still a great opportunity to network with your classmates and build professional relationships. There are so many opportunities for interaction within the course itself, and you will likely have access to your class roster with email contact information. There is no harm in emailing an introduction to connect or even adding your classmates on LinkedIn. You never know what future opportunities could fall into your lap because of it.