Whether you’re just graduating high school, returning to college after an extended break, or switching to an entirely new career, online community college classes are an excellent choice for any student. With so many options at your fingertips, choosing the right online classes can be a complicated process. To help you get the most out of your online education, we’ve highlighted five absolutely essential courses for community college students.
Most online colleges and certificate programs will require you to complete a core curriculum before entering your concentration. These requisite core classes lay the foundation for the advanced college classes you will eventually take — but don’t confuse “core” with ‘basic!’ This is college-level, after all. It’s important to speak with an academic advisor at your school to find out which courses are required to complete your degree or certificate program. Also, bear in mind that core classes may have different names or descriptions from one school to another. Also remember that there are often very closely-related courses that can satisfy program requirements. Again, be sure to consult with an academic advisor!
With that in mind, here are a few essential community college courses to help get you started.
5 online courses you should consider taking at your community college…
1. Computer Information Systems (CIS)
While not required for every degree or certificate, computer information systems is an invaluable college course. This computer information systems course gives a basic overview of computer and Web usage, as well as a variety of essential software programs. You will likely cover a broad range of topics including databases; networking; hardware, software, and system design; and you’ll mainly focus on information systems used in business. From Microsoft Word to Excel to PowerPoint, students will practice and learn to operate a variety of modalities. Many online college courses replace the lack of in-person discussion with essay writing, PowerPoint presentations, or Excel spreadsheet work. These tasks are often assigned to students to be completed as group work, which means you owe it to your classmates to be on top of your game. This class will give you the tools you need to succeed in a variety of future online courses and is extremely helpful for older students returning to school and seeking a grasp on new technologies.
- Useful knowledge in a variety of software programs
- Great for older students returning to school
- Perfect for less tech-savvy individuals
- May seem redundant to students with previous computer and software experience
- May not apply to every degree program
- Course content may have short shelf-life due to rapid technological change
2. Introductory Psychology
Psychology is the scientific study of how the human mind works. This introductory course offers a look at the different concepts and principles of psychology. The tools gained in this class can help you achieve a better understanding of human nature, thought, and behavior. Many of the concepts learned can be applied to future courses and degrees, and it may fulfill a prerequisite requirement for any number of programs, including business, nursing, and education. This makes it a perfect choice for any new or returning online student.
- Useful knowledge for everyday life
- Needed for many degrees and certificate programs
- Provides learning foundation for many future classes
- Information may be broad, and therefore lacking in greater depth
- Students may be overwhelmed by the breadth of information
- Much of what is learned will be more theoretical than practical in nature
3. College Algebra
Depending on your chosen educational pathway, you will most likely need a college level math class. Typically, algebra is the most practical option, though your specific degree program may require calculus or geometry. However you personally feel about going to math class, this is a very useful course. And you might be pleased to learn that many online community colleges have retooled their approach to mathematics in order to make the subject matter more interesting, engaging, and applicable to everyday life.
- Most degrees and certifications require a math class
- Math can actually be fun if you take the right course
- You’ll learn essential problem-solving and critical thinking skills
- Math poses distinct operational challenges to many students
- Some students find math boring and tedious
- Specific course content may not be pertinent your career path
Whether you’re just learning the language or you are fully fluent, English is an essential course. Almost every class you will take, especially online classes, will require extensive research, writing, and composition. You will write papers, post in-discussion threads on a variety of topics, and communicate with your instructor and fellow students. This all means that proper utilization of the English language is vital. In fact, your credibility hinges on it. In this course, you will be introduced to a variety of research methods and writing formats, including instruction on how to lay out a persuasive argument, use proper citation methods, format your writing appropriately, and even find your own voice as a writer.
- Writing skills are a multidisciplinary necessity
- English comprehension and composition skills are essential to everyday life
- English is required for most degrees and certificate programs
- May seem redundant to students with previous experience in writing
- Selected literature may lack personal appeal
5. Introduction to Humanities
This class typically offers a review of some of the most significant developments in human history and world culture. Students will explore the ways that civilizations and societies have conveyed their ideas and experiences by studying a multicultural array of art, music, religious ideas, literary works, and philosophy. Introductory humanity courses can also help you to gain a better understanding of the underlying process by which societies are molded and by which they evolve. You will focus on developing the conceptual tools necessary to comprehend cultural phenomena from a critical perspective. Most liberal arts degree programs will require you to engage the humanities in order to advance your studies. If you’re just beginning your online college education, now’s the time to get started!
- Useful knowledge that can be applied in future courses
- Most degrees require at least one course in humanities
- You’ll gain greater appreciation for other cultures and traditions
- The information covered is usually a generalized overview lacking in depth
- Your institution may not provide access to courses regarding every culture of interest
If you don’t know where to start, choosing the best online community college courses can be an intimidating process. There are a wide variety of options and requirements specific to every degree or certificate program.
Speaking to an academic advisor at your school is always a good idea. But if you’re looking for a way to hit the start button, the five essential courses highlighted above are the tip of the online iceberg. Educate yourself on the requirements for your specific degree so that you can be sure your online course-load is both engaging and valuable. If you do it right, this could set you on the path forward in both your education and your profession.