Understanding the Online Campus

If you’re new to education online, the virtual campus may take some getting used to. Although you’ll learn the same things that traditional college students do, the learning experience is still quite different. Read on for an overview of the online campus and how to navigate it most effectively.


Once you’re accepted by online education program, you can complete the registration process completely online. You don’t have to wait in line for hours to sign up for classes or see an adviser like you would with a physical campus. You’ll have access to a schedule of classes offered by your online school, and you can create a course schedule and pay tuition using the school’s website. Most online education programs also have an online bookstore where students can purchase the texts for their courses if physical textbooks are required.

Support Services

A good distance learning program will offer all of the student support services provided by a traditional campus. These services usually include academic advising, financial aid counseling, career services, and technical support. All of these services will be accessible through your online college or university’s site. Most schools assign incoming students to an academic advisor and/or a financial aid officer. You then communicate with the advisers through email or via telephone if necessary. Because education online is highly dependent on technology, most online schools also offer 24/7 tech support to their students.

Attending Class

To attend class on a virtual campus, you log in with a username and password through the school’s website. This username will give you access to your school email, if your university provides one, as well as the classes in which you are enrolled. Education online programs generally grant students access to the virtual classroom a few days before the class begins. This allows the students to explore the classroom, read and print out important class documents, and download the reading materials. Once the class begins, you will attend by logging in and discussing subjects with your peers, submitting assignments, and completing the readings.


Grading practices for online education do not differ significantly from those of traditional education programs. However, most online courses tend to place more of an emphasis on participation than traditional classes. You will be graded on the quality of your assignments, your performance in learning teams or study groups, and the quality and quantity of your participation. The online classroom usually has a special page where students can monitor their grades throughout the term.