Getting the Right Computer for Online Classes

Getting the Right Computer for Online Classes

online school preparation

Once you have made the decision to take some online classes it is important that you have up to date information at all times.  In order to stay on top of your classes and have success at an online college you will need certain tools and equipment.

Make no mistake: online classes are different from a traditional type of class.  Instead of backpacks, notebooks and lots of lined paper, students will be buying different pieces of electronic equipment.  And the paper they buy will likely be printer paper.

Your Study Area

Unlike a traditional class, an online course is centered on the student.  This means that the student is doing the majority of the work and the teacher is merely guiding the student along the path.  Students must be focused and determined along with an orderly spot that is designated as a study only zone.  Having a completely separate room is the perfect setup.  If this is not feasible then you should have a spot to call your study area where nothing else goes on.

Different students have different preferences when it comes time to studying.  Some people like to have a little noise in the background, whether it is coming from a television or a radio.  Other people want to have the room in total silence.  No matter how you like to study you need to have a place with plenty of light and free of clutter.

If you have family members that constantly seek out your attention or pets that seem to clamor over you whenever you are sitting down, perhaps a better alternative would be to do your studying at the library or local book dealer.  These places often have access to the internet so that you can log on to any necessary documents from your class or participate in a class discussion.

Necessary Computer Specs

Prior to the beginning of the semester, get your computer checked to ensure you have the right software as well as an adequate setup on the computer hardware.  The school will give you the minimum requirements for the computer you will be using.  Any computer made in the previous two years should meet the necessary requirements for your online classes.  Here is a short list of the typical requirements:

  • 512 MB of RAM (or higher)
  • 20 GB hard drive
  • Sound card
  • Operating System: Windows 98 or up/ Mac OSX or up
  • MS Office 2004 or higher; alternatively you can have some type of word processor
  • Necessary plugins
  • Internet browser

It is a good idea to bookmark the school’s online library and necessary databases.  This will give you quick access to appropriate materials anytime you have to conduct research for a paper, research assignment or homework.

Additional Equipment

Many of the classes you take online will involve lectures that are either taped audio or video.  In addition you may be part of live video chat for a class, a group discussion or one on one time with your professor.  You will need to ensure that you have a CD player for any audios as well as a DVD player and appropriate screen for prerecorded videos.  Your computer screen can serve as the screen if your computer has a DVD drive.

You will be asked to write a good deal of the time whether it is assignments, quizzes, tests or research papers.  For this reason it is wise to have a dictionary as well as a thesaurus nearby or you can find one online and make a bookmark to them.

The George Washington University

Founded in 1821, George Washington University is based on President George Washington’s wish for a national university. This private research institution is organized into 14 colleges and now serves students, both domestically and internationally, through its distance learning program, GW Online. George Washington University remains one of the largest private universities with students in more than 130 countries including 15,000 graduate students, many of which are enrolled in one of the 60 online master’s degrees. Online graduate programs are offered in a range of subjects including cyber security policy and compliance to strategic public relations. With alumni that include presidents, prime ministers, royals, and diplomats from around the globe, George Washington University offers all eligible students access to its world-class educational tools including famous programs in government affairs and journalism.

University of California – Berkeley

UC Berkeley has an extensive online learning program offering courses, certificates and degrees to adults wishing to further their education. The Berkeley School of Information offers two fully online master’s degree programs, the Master of Information and Data Science (MIDS) and the Master of Information and Cybersecurity (MICS). A Master of Public Health is also available online. While the coursework can be completed online, some programs require an on-campus immersion visit. The program length and tuition will vary by program, but the MIDS and MICS are each 27 units and cost $66,150 and $69,984 respectively, plus additional fees. Online students receive personalized support throughout the program and career resources aimed at helping them gain employment after degree completion.

Georgia Institute of Technology

Georgia Tech has been delivering online learning programs to adult learners for over 40 years. They offer nine online Master of Science degrees and three hybrid professional master’s degrees, all based on their challenging on-campus programs. Online students are provided with a renowned faculty, top quality classes, digital learning tools, and a nationally ranked curriculum. Their online programs are a cost-effective way for working professionals from all over the world to further their education and careers. Courses are typically taught asynchronously, but there may be virtual office hours with faculty and teaching assistants that students need to attend at a set time. Georgia Tech s online master’s degrees vary in price from $275 per credit hour to $1,100 per credit hour and typically take two to three years to complete.

The University of Southern California

The University of Southern California has been offering remote education since 1972 and currently offers over 100 online graduate and executive programs. Students taking online classes receive the same distinguished education as on campus students and face similar, demanding standards. Their online courses offer convenience and flexibility, and also include real time virtual discussions with faculty and classmates. Admission requirements for online programs are typically the same as for on campus students, though international students may face additional stipulations. Online tuition is billed at the standard USC rate, with graduate tuition currently estimated at $27,660 per year, though the price will vary depending on program and length. USC is a top ranked university and has received numerous awards for its online graduate programs.

Capitol Technology University

Capitol Technology University offers technology-related certificates, classes for undergraduates, master’s degrees, and doctorates for people looking to further their education. Their accelerated master’s degree programs are all fully online, with eight and 16-week courses available. Many of their degrees come in a flexible, asynchronous format, allowing students to complete their work when their schedule allows. Some programs offer a live, virtual classroom in which students can interact with their instructor and peers. All live classes are recorded and available to be viewed at the students convenience. The master’s degrees require between 30-39 credits to complete, and the tuition for graduate courses is $603 per credit, plus fees. They offer a discounted rate to active duty military members and there is no application fee.

Stanford University

Stanford University has a robust online program offering graduate degrees, graduate and professional certificates, executive education programs, and free courses designed to help students reach their goals. Students have access to classes, lectures and other learning tools created by Stanford s world class faculty. They offer 11 online engineering master’s degree programs, but not all of these programs can be completed entirely online and most require a minimum GPA. The master’s degree programs require 45 units to complete, and the tuition is $1,352 per quarter unit. Stanford also charges a one-time transcript and document fee of $125, plus a student fee for each quarter of enrollment (except for summer). Part-time students typically complete their degrees in three to five years, with a maximum of five years allowed.