How Do Online Classes Work?

Plan Your Course Schedule

How is Online Different Than Face-to-Face Classes?

You might be familiar with taking a college class in a face-to-face environment in a traditional college setting. The basic premise is still the same online; you’ll have a syllabus to introduce you to what the class – or course – is about and the competencies it will cover. You’ll also learn what materials are required for the course, the types of assignments to expect, grading information, the assignment schedule and academic policies.

Attending classes on campus may tie you to a traditional semester schedule, limiting opportunities to begin a degree program. Online classes may differ, offering term start dates year-round. At Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU), for example, there are 8-week terms for undergraduate classes and 10-week terms for graduate, allowing ample opportunities to enroll throughout the calendar year.

Possibility 2: AP Courses Don’t Get Credit, but Allow You to Skip Intro Courses

There are some schools—particularly competitive ones—that don’t give you credit for AP classes. While they will use high scores to place you into higher-level classes freshman year, they won’t give you credit towards graduation. We’ll take a look at Dartmouth College to see what this can look like.

Case Study: Dartmouth


One such school is Dartmouth. You can actually read a statement about their policy on AP credit here. To summarize, Dartmouth will use AP classes to place students in higher-level classes, but not for credit towards graduation.

They revised their AP policy because they want students to take full advantage of Dartmouth courses and they’re worried AP courses aren’t true replacements for college level classes.

So how does the credit work? To take an example, if you get a 5 on AP Micro Economics, you will be placed in an intermediate or advanced economics course right off the bat, but you won’t receive any credit for AP Micro itself. This can still be helpful if you’re excited to jump into higher classes or want to fit in a minor or double major.

You can also be exempted from the foreign language requirement if you score high on an AP language test. So while AP courses won’t get you credit at Dartmouth, they are still worthwhile since they will allow you to skip introductory courses.

Get a 5 On Your AP Exam

Will my college credits transfer?

Most general education classes will transfer, provided you earned them at an accredited university. These are the classes you take when you’re a freshman before you start getting into specific courses required for your major. Courses like English, history, math, writing, public speaking, and other general education courses usually transfer pretty easily.

Higher level classes that are more specific may not transfer as easily, especially if a lot of time has passed and the field has advanced quite a bit. This is pretty common in fields like nursing, engineering, or sciences where theories and advancements happen quickly and older information is no longer accurate.

If you are changing majors, some of your college credits may not fit into your new degree plan. When this happens, you can sometimes use your credits to fill up any elective credits you may have.


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