Are you thinking of getting your degree, but your schedule and other responsibilities don’t allow you to enroll in a brick-and-mortar university? Maybe you feel that your life experience doesn’t exactly mesh with the ivory tower lifestyle. If you want to find out more about how to succeed in online education, you have plenty of company. According to government data, more than 20 million students took at least one online class in the fall of 2018. In addition, over 16% of students pursuing their college education were doing so exclusively online. Online education has become a welcome solution for many would-be students who recognize the value of a college degree but for whom the traditional learning format simply isn’t feasible.
Students have many reasons for opting for an online education. But regardless of whether you’re a traditional or an online student, your studies require hard work and dedication. Don’t be fooled into thinking that because you’re the one setting the time and place for the class, you can take a free-form approach to your studies. Here are some practical tips that will help you ensure success in online education.
Create a Dedicated Space for Studying
If the only place where you’ll be able to take your class is in the family kitchen, make sure that you can establish a time when you won’t be distracted. If you’re a parent with young children, that may mean that your prime study time might be early in the morning, before they get up, or late at night, after you’ve put them to bed. Your education has to be a priority for you, even while you’re fulfilling your other responsibilities. Some students find that a local coffee shop is conducive to studying. If you find that Victorian novels go down better with a Caramel Macchiato, then maybe Starbucks is the classroom for you. Capitalize on the freedom and flexibility that online education gives you; just make sure that, wherever it is, your customized classroom is free of distractions.
Be Sure That You Have the Necessary Technology
Online education depends on technology and in order to be a successful online college student, it’s necessary to have the right technology. One of the reasons that online studies have advanced so swiftly is because the technology that supports the educational process has advanced as well. Before you start your classes, find out what kind of technology you’ll need. The technical requirements for classes will be posted on the school website. You’ll learn what operating system you’ll need for your computer; the recommended Internet speed; what web browser is used for accessing the coursework; as well as the information regarding microphones and web cameras.
Meet the Faculty, Staff and Students
Even though an online class doesn’t take place with the professor in the room, students and instructors still have a relationship. And even though your instructor is not physically present, that relationship is still just as important in an online class. To paraphrase the poet John Donne, no student is an island. You can stay in contact with your instructor, not only when there’s a problem, but throughout the duration of the course. Universities offer tutoring opportunities, coaching, and other resources to enhance the educational process. There will also be ways to engage with your fellow students. Online education often requires class participation in the virtual format, responding to posts from classmates and asking questions.
Take advantage of these opportunities so that you can enjoy the university experience. Online education doesn’t have to mean solitary confinement.
Set Your Schedule and Stick to It
Your class has deadlines for handing in course work and taking exams. You can mark them on a paper calendar or note them in your Outlook calendar or create a reminder on your mobile device. Regardless of how you do it, you’ll stay ahead of deadline pressure if you know what’s coming up. When is the best time to schedule time to read the assignments? Treat that block of time as if it’s a work schedule, because it is. If an assignment or a paper needs to be submitted on Sunday night, you don’t want to be starting the reading that afternoon. Your professor will be able to tell that you didn’t prepare adequately and your grade will suffer accordingly.
If you’re not an organized person by nature, you can take advantage of technology to help you become one. Set a notification to remind you on Monday what needs to be done so that you’re ready for a Friday assignment. Keep your emails and documents in online folders so that all the material is close at hand when you need it. Instead of having to search through physical notebooks and slips of paper, you can have everything neatly arranged in categories, making it easier for you to complete your assignment. But there’s nothing wrong with the tried-and-true refrigerator magnet early warning system: A week of seeing “Paper Due Friday” every time you open the fridge door is an effective way of making sure that you don’t forget your next deadline.
Throughout the process of pursuing your degree, don’t lose sight of the goals and aspirations that have put you on this path. A better job? Higher pay? Greater personal satisfaction? You will succeed in your online education by your commitment to the end result.