5 Classes You Should Take Online...and 5 You Shouldn't

Learning to manage your class schedule is important in college, but it's not easy. Taking some of your classes online can save time, money and sanity, but it's not always best. You might miss some things, like social interaction or hands-on activities, but sometimes online really is the better option. So which classes should you take online and which should you take in person?

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Classes You Should Take Online

The following are a list of classes that typically don't require much guidance from a professor, other than providing you with the resources and materials necessary to learn the subject matter. For that reason, if you're interested in a more flexible schedule, these courses may be worth taking online:

Social Science

Most social science courses, such as sociology, humanities, anthropology, and others, explore the inner workings of societies past and present. Requiring mostly reading, short essays, discussions, and reflection on personal experiences, social science courses often don't require much support from professors. If you can stay on top of deadlines and assignments, you should have no problem successfully completing one of these courses online.

Health Education

Most colleges require that you take a basic sex education, physical wellness, or alcohol education class during your first few years. These classes, while informative, don't necessarily help with your major or lead towards a career path. If you can take a required health education class online, do it. It will likely be little effort and may give you more time to study for other classes. Health 101: Principles of Health is online course that you can take on your own time - just learn from home and transfer credits to your school.

Art/Music Appreciation

In order to complete any degree, you usually need to take a course in the arts. If you have no desire to take a hands-on art or music class, most colleges offer courses such as art/music history or appreciation online. These courses provide you with information about different art/music movements and their evolution over time. The curricula typically require reading, some researching, and the ability to identify different works of art or instrumental sounds. The fastest way to satisfy this requirement is with Art 101: Art of the Western World. Learn on your phone and on your own schedule!

Basic History

This does not apply to higher-level history courses that emphasize class discussion or collaborative analysis. However, some introductory history courses consist mostly of memorizing facts, places, and dates. Memorization doesn't necessarily require class participation, so taking the class online probably won't change the experience for you. Great history courses to take online include History 101: Western Civilization I, History 102: Western Civilization II, History 103: US History I, and History 104: US History II.

General Education Courses

Not every single general education course can be taken easily online, but sometimes it's for the best. Check to see if pass/fail is an option, then work towards passing the class online, just to get it out of the way. If it's not something you'll use in the future for classes in your major or a topic you find particularly interesting, spending time on it that could be spent on other classes probably isn't wise. Study.com's general education courses lead to quick credit you can transfer to your school. With Study.com, you can earn credit in under two weeks and knock out your gen eds in just a few months.

Classes You Should Not Take Online

Although you might be interested in knocking out some of the more difficult courses offered online, it's smarter to take them in person. They often require extra support and guidance from a professor. If possible, try to avoid taking the following classes online:


In high school, English classes might have been all about reading and answering questions on a quiz. In college, however, English is mostly discussion. Without serious effort or video chats, online discussion classes are hard to manage. Also, English courses tend to teach you a lot about essay writing, which you will use for most of your classes as you go through college.


To truly learn a language, you have to speak it, hear it, and make mistakes only to be corrected. While this is possible when using an online program, it is far more difficult. Conversing with other students and your teachers in the language you are learning is one of the best ways to progress in your studies. Just clicking on right answers or listening to people speak without responding simply won't get you there as fast.


While a lot of science is fact memorization, a lot more of it in college is applying those facts. Without performing experiments yourself, understanding concepts can be more difficult. Learning on your own can also be more expensive. The tools you need to perform certain tests can cost a bundle. Why pass up using them for cheap or for free in your college's own lab?


If you've chosen to go into the medical field, you probably already know there's a specific method for doing everything, and you need to get it exactly right. You can know the right answer every time, but without gaining hands-on experience and doing things for yourself, you won't get better. It's safer for future patients and better for your future classes if you're there in person to watch others do things before attempting them yourself.

Courses for Your Major

If you know you need a class for your major, do not take it online. As you move up from class to class over the years, you often have to look back and learn from what you've already done. If you haven't been in classes to discuss and figure out your problem areas, future classes will just keep getting harder and harder. If you're not sure a class is necessary for your major, ask yourself if it covers a concept or skill you'll use in your college or working-world career. If the answer is yes, consider taking it in person.

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