NDSU Distance & Continuing Education (DCE)

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Student Story: Taking Online Courses Saves Time, Gas, and Leads to Success

Feature Story
Posted on Dec, 08 2011

photo of Amber Frie

While earning her degree, soon to be graduating North Dakota State University student, Amber Frie took at least one online class each semester through NDSU Distance and Continuing Education for a total of 11 altogether. Frie will graduate in December with a bachelor’s degree in sociology and a minor in human development and family science. A main reason for taking online classes was to lessen the amount of time she had to spend on campus, which allowed her to share a car more easily and work more hours at her job. She also found that she learned better in the online environment and had a few tips to share. Frie enjoyed her online classes so much that after graduation she will be starting graduate studies in a completely online program.

Like many college students today, Frie had to work many hours each week. Some weeks she would work up to 54 hours, so going to campus to attend class was difficult. However, by taking classes online, Frie worked out a schedule where she only had to come to campus on Tuesdays and Thursdays and could take the rest of her classes online, completing them according to her personal and work schedules. Being able to take classes online allowed her to work and not worry about missing class so often. She said, “Jobs make people tired, and when classes are only offered at certain times that may not work around work schedules or might be very early in the morning after you just worked until 1 a.m., online classes help. You can do them at any time of the day! Working and being in college is not an easy task. You do not get much time for yourself and may not have much time to socialize, so if taking an online class can help you visit your family more or even watch a favorite TV show, why not?”

Aside from a busy work schedule, sharing a car would have made getting to campus a lot harder. When you take classes on campus, there is a good chance you will have to be there five days a week and have large breaks between your classes. Frie found that online classes helped her out because she only had to come to campus two days a week and the person she shares a car with goes to a different school and has a different job. But, by only having to drive to campus twice a week, she said she uses less gas every week! Frie also pointed out that even though classes are online you still get to collaborate and do group work, but this is all done online so she doesn’t have to make even more trips to campus and try to find a time where all group members can meet.

Though the online learning environment may not be for everyone, Frie really enjoyed the classes and felt she learned more than she did in the classroom. Like many other students report, being successful requires self-motivation and good time-management skills so if you set deadlines for yourself you are less tempted to procrastinate. The format and requirements of online classes can vary; some are based solely on reading the textbook and others have lectures created by the instructor. Some of the classes Frie completed had only tests and others had assignments and tests. She particularly enjoyed the classes that had multiple assignments because she was able to analyze and apply the information, resulting in better comprehension of the material.


Frie had the following tips for those thinking of taking classes online:

Set deadlines. Just because a class can be completed over the course of the semester does not mean you should wait until the last minute; you should take a calendar and separate the coursework and readings throughout the weeks to make things a lot easier on yourself.  Do not wait until the night before a test to read all of the chapters of your textbook.

Study! Do not assume that just because a class is online it will be easy. Also, you should not assume that just because you may be able to use your book or notes on an exam that you do not have to study. You should keep up on readings and assignments and study before you take any exams. Nine times out of ten the exam is harder than you expected!


Most online courses are designed to be user-friendly and NDSU Distance and Continuing Education provides resources should students have technology problems. Frie considers herself a tech-savvy person, but said this isn’t a requirement when taking online courses. However, an ironic event happened this semester during Frie’s two online courses: her computer broke! However, since she is able to complete the coursework when she has time, she is able to stay on campus later on the days she is already there and use the computers on campus. Though having your own computer makes taking online courses more convenient, she also mentioned that most cities and public libraries have computers with internet access so those who may not have their own computers can still take online classes.

After graduation, Frie will begin graduate studies to earn a graduate certificate in addiction counseling. She enjoyed and excelled in the online learning environment so much that she sought out an online graduate program that will allow her to complete all of her coursework online and then complete over 800 hours of an internship applying what she learned in a counseling facility in the community she lives in.

If you have any questions about how you can earn a degree fully online or are interested in taking a few online classes to cut your time on campus, contact us today at 701-231-7015 or send us an email at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Distance and Continuing Education at NDSU offers 30 online programs. Check out our full list of online degrees at www.ndsu.edu/dce/degrees.