Student FAQs

Don't be embarrassed if you are enrolled in a hybrid class or an online class for the first time and are unclear about what to expect in these new forms of courses. Your instructor is your best source of information and will make her or himself easily available to through email, phone and voicemail.

To help you get started, however, here are some frequently asked questions about hybrid or online classes. Please keep in mind that these are general questions and you should always check with your instructor for specifics.

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Can I apply online?

You can apply online for Cuyamaca College and Grossmont College at the California Community Colleges Online Application Center.

How does an online class work?

Instead of attending lectures on campus, online students learn off campus at their convenience. Some teachers require face-to-face meetings (most often orientation or final exam), but many courses are completely online.

Learning materials vary from class to class, but may include textbooks, video demonstrations, PowerPoint presentations, interactive lessons, and Web resources. Learning activities may include writing papers, posting comments or essays to online discussion forums, completing individual or group projects, and taking quizzes. While students can choose when and where they work, there are usually deadlines for assignments and exams.

Students interact with their teacher and classmates via web discussion forums, e-mail, chat sessions, and phone calls.

Is an online class the same as a self-paced/independent study class?

No, most online classes are NOT self-paced classes. You can expect due dates for homework, online class participation, and other activities similar to those you would find in a "regular" on-site class.

Is taking an online class easier than taking a regular class?

No. The course content of an online class is identical to that of an on-site class on the same topic. Some people think the workload is even more demanding than a regular face-to-face class because you have to be a self-directed learner and stay motivated to keep on top of your work.

You will have to do more reading and writing in an online class because this is the main method of communication. For example, instead of listening to a teacher lecture, you may be asked to read the lecture. Instead of answering a question verbally in class, you may be asked to write it.

The most successful online students tend to share the following characteristics. They:

  • are self-motivated and are self-starters
  • have good organization and time-management skills
  • are familiar with computers and the Internet
  • are resourceful and actively seek answers and solutions to questions and problems
What Internet skills would be helpful in an online class?

The most successful students tend to have the following skills:

  • Familiarity with their web browser
  • Familiarity with an email program (including attaching documents and reading attachments)
  • Know how to make and organize bookmarks in their browser software
  • Some familiarity with web-based interactions - email, bulletin boards, mailing lists, and chat rooms
  • Experience in successful Internet searches using a variety of search engines
What equipment and software do I need to be an online student?

You will need:

  • Access to a fairly new computer
  • Reliable fast internet access (Cable or DSL)
  • Recent versions of Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Chrome browsers (Firefox is preferred)
  • Word processing software such as Microsoft Word
  • Course specific software
Do I have to own a computer to enroll in an online class?

Strictly speaking, no. But you must have easy access to a computer with reliable internet access throughout the semester. You can access computers on campus in several locations (such as the Learning Resource Center and computer labs, for example). Some students complete online classes from work (having arranged this beforehand with their employer, of course), public libraries, or houses.

How much time do I have to spend in an online class?

In short, you should plan to spend at least the same amount of time you would spend for a face-to-face class. For a 3 unit class, that would be about 9 hours per week (3 in-class hours plus 6 homework hours).

Do I have to log on to class at a particular time?

Usually not. You will have deadlines for posting your assignments, quizzes, etc., but as long as you meet these deadlines, you can do the work when you choose. You would be well-advised to set up a daily schedule to avoid being overburdened at the end of the week.

Some instructors require you to log into Canvas and post to the discussion board or turn in assignments two or three times a week. If you have a problem, contact the instructor or use the discussion bulletin board to try to get help from other students in the class. You won't like the feeling of leaving work until the last minute and then running into trouble!

Where do we meet for class?

For the most part, you won't really "meet" in a physical face to face sense. Instead, the class will interact regularly through the Internet and you will communicate with each other using discussion boards, chat, and email. Your instructor will make course materials and assignments available using web pages, discussion boards, and announcements.

How do I turn in homework and take tests?

This varies, but you will usually get assignments through Canvas or a book publisher's website with instructions for turning in the work. You might be asked to upload your work, complete an online quiz, or participate in web-based discussion. Many teachers use Canvas to manage assignments, discussion, quizzing, and grading.

What's it like to be an online student?

Online classes are very different from face to face classes on campus. In general you can expect to:

  • Spend 3 hours per unit per week working on the class. For example, for a typical 3-unit course, you will spend at least 9 hours per week on course reading, assignments, and communication.
  • Participate in online discussions or other written communication.
  • Experience an uncomfortable transition period. It can take a few weeks to learn how the course works.
  • Experience some frustration with written communication. Most people find it easier to ask questions face to face, especially because the response is usually immediate.
What can I expect from my instructor?

Your teacher will do all the things a teacher does in a traditional class.

You can expect:

  • A syllabus and course schedule.
  • Assignments with clear instructions and timely feedback.
  • Prompt responses to questions.
  • Clear guidelines about how long it will take to get homework and quiz scores and responses to questions.

You should not expect:

  • 24/7 support. It may take a few working days to get responses to questions.
  • Help with prerequisite skills.
  • Help troubleshooting technical problems.
What do online instructors expect from students?

There typically is little difference here than in a regular class. Instructors can expect that everyone will participate in the class with courtesy and consideration for each other and for the instructor.

E-mails and web postings should be appropriate, on the topic at hand, and reflect a professional demeanor. Inappropriate behavior includes, but is not limited to, the following: disruptive, plagiarism or dishonesty.
It is a violation of college policy to plagiarize or to recycle work. Do not:

  • Take others thoughts or words without appropriate acknowledgment
  • Submit work that has been written or revised in part or in whole by another person
  • Submit work that you have submitted for another class
Do you have any tips for online students?
  • Schedule time (3 hours per unit per week) to focus on the class. Don't think that you don't need to make time for class just because you're not on campus. Write session times in your calendar just as you would for an on-campus class, and make sure you have a quiet place to work.
  • Keep up with the class and make it a top priority. The biggest problem online students have is gradually falling behind.
  • Do assignments BEFORE the due date. It may take a few days to get help.
  • Have a back-up plan in case of technical problems.
  • Work with a small group, either in person or via phone or e-mail.
  • Communicate! Your teacher can't see if you are engaged and "getting it." You must be willing to speak up. Ask if you are not clear about instructions, due dates, or your progress.
How do I access my gcccd email account?
Where can I get online materials and books?

Online class materials and books are available from the Grossmont College Bookstore or Cuyamaca College Bookstore.

Required class materials and text books are listed with each class description in the online syllabi. All class materials and textbooks, unless otherwise specified, are required for the first day of class.

How do I get started?

Go to the link for Canvas that is posted on either college's website under "Online Services" ( or You can also bookmark this URLs:

Please review the "login instructions" on that page.

If you are unable to access the course, please contact your instructor via email. Instructor email addresses are located in the Directory.