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With the new semesters starting all the time, students across the country can get a head start on their education. At top online universities, students can easily navigate their coursework in the comfort of their home. For new students, attending online universities can seem daunting at first. The world of e-learning may seem confusing to the uninitiated, but it can be simple to navigate!



The First Step: Enrolling Online

Before students can choose their courses at top online universities, they will need to enroll. The enrollment process varies among different colleges. On average, students will probably need to request transcripts from their high school or former college. These transcripts must be turned in to the college admissions staff. In addition, many top online universities require students to submit additional admissions materials. Students may need to submit a personal essay, letters of recommendation or test scores.

online universities

Although many of the best universities require transcripts and recommendations, there are colleges that have open-enrollment policies. This type of policy allows anyone to attend the college as long as there is enough space in the program. To enroll using this process, students merely need to find the university that they want to attend and sign-up on their website. Afterward, it is a simple matter of paying tuition and selecting courses.


Attending Classes

In a brick-and-mortar university, students normally have to attend lectures, laboratory classes, and study halls. Obviously, it is impossible to attend physically a lecture online. Instead, online universities will typically require students to listen to a video, audio, or written lecture. Most colleges allow students to listen or watch the taped lecture at their own convenience. Instead of assigning a lecture, the professor may also require the student to read sections in a textbook. To succeed, the student will need to be excellent at time management and committed to pursuing their education. 

Outside of just providing students with the lecture, the college will also give students a way to ask questions. They may be able to utilize a chat room with fellow students and their professor. There may also be virtual conferences set up for office hours. In general, an online university will make sure that there is a way for students to interact with their peers. If there is not a chat room set up, the class will provide the email addresses for fellow students.


Taking Tests Online

It is entirely possible for students to take all of their tests online. The test may use multiple-choice questions or students may have to write an essay. If the test is multiple choice, a computer program can immediately calculate or input the score. For essay questions, the test is sent to the professor via the Internet for grading.

One of the main problems with an online college is cheating. It can be difficult, and possibly even impossible, to spot cheaters on tests. In general, students are expected to sign and adhere to an honor policy. Since this is not always an effective way to prevent cheating, top online universities may require the student to use a proctor. A proctor is a person who is paid to supervise test taking in an on- or off-campus computer lab. The proctor will check the student's identification and make sure that they do not cheat on the test.


Completing Online Assignments

Even though the class is online, students will still be required to complete homework assignments. Often, online professors are stricter with deadlines. With an online class, students cannot stay home sick, or use the weather as an excuse to turn in the homework late. The assignment must be turned in when it is due. If this is a problem for the student, there are some colleges available that offer more flexible assignment deadlines.


Attending Graduation

Originally, most online colleges sent out a diploma and avoided formal graduation ceremonies. In recent years, online universities have started to offer on-campus graduations. Students must register in advance for the graduation, and may need to make travel arrangements. At some colleges, the graduation may even be conducted virtually through programs like Second Life. Students can choose to bring their family and friends to a virtual graduation. At in-person events, the school will let students know if they can bring guests.