Wading into the waters of online education for the first time can pose unique challenges and take some getting used to for the uninitiated. There will likely be a learning curve, especially for those who are not technologically savvy. This article is designed to help you get your feet wet and guide you along with 10 helpful tips for online college success as you steadily immerse yourself into the online college experience.
1. Self Determination
As with traditional campus-based education, self determination is just as much of a key factor to success in online education. Education should be viewed as a means to improve your self and your circumstances; it can be the key that unlocks all the doors. Develop a keen sense of self determination and self reliance, and that will help overcome whatever initial obstacles that may be faced in beginning an online education.
2. Gather All Resources
Colleges that offer online programs know what is required to assist its students in succeeding in education, and as such, they offer many tools and resources which should be utilized. There are support teams such as tutors for help with coursework, technical supports, chat rooms in which students can communicate with fellow students and professors, online libraries, ebooks for textbooks which makes referencing much easier (and ebooks are less expensive than textbooks), and other web-based options. It is important to be familiar with all of the means of help and the support system available to as a key aspect to online college success.
3. Understand Degree Program Options
Probably the most important question to decide is what degree you want to get. If you have certain schools in mind, see what degrees the schools offer. For instance, Capella University offers degrees in marketing, business, finance, nursing, criminal justice, counseling, and others, with different concentrations in each subject.
4. Become Technologically Savvy
Part of your success in taking online classes will rely on your ability to navigate various computer softwares, and it is important that you familiarize yourself with this technology, such as Blackboard. Also, the various resources that will be at your fingertips, such as chat rooms, tutors, etc., will be online in various software formats. You should be able to concentrate on the school work itself and not have any additional learning curve in using the relevant software that online college requires.
5. Effective Time Management
While it is true that much online college coursework offers more flexibility than traditional college coursework, time management is still an important part of success. There are still deadlines and due dates for the coursework, and mapping out and scheduling the work accordingly can help greatly. A calendar and schedule is important to keep preferably on your smart phone or in some format that is always accessible and can be updated as necessary.
6. Begin Small
As with any new experience and endeavor, start small and take some time to learn how the process works. Take just a few classes at first. Do not overburden or overwhelm yourself with too many classes and responsibilities. In this regard it may behoove you to take the first class in a summer semester and see how well you adjust and like program.
7. Write Well and Proofread Your Work
Since a large part of online coursework will be in written form, there is an opportunity to submit well-written, polished work that will positively impact your grades. Good grammar and correct punctuation will help convey your message accurately, and it’s always a good idea to be clear and concise in your writing. I suggest reading Write to the Point by Bill Stott for direction in good writing.
8. Make Good Use of Downtime
In online courses there isn’t always going to be immediate feedback on your assignments that you’ve submitted, so while you are waiting try to use your time wisely. Don’t spend excessive amounts of time watching television or playing games when you could be getting a head start in reading or writing for next week’s assignments; it will only improve your grades by giving you time to learn and anticipate the next assignments.
9. Communicate Effectively with Faculty and Students
A good understanding of the coursework and expectations of the professors is crucial to passing and making good grades in any given course. Since in-person communication is not an option, make use of email, chats, forums, and other formats to communicate with fellow students and professors if you have any questions and need any clarification. In this way you can avoid misunderstandings from the outset, greatly enhancing your online college success.
10. Make School Routine
As with other aspects of life, we often learn by doing, and in doing we get most proficient when we get into a routine. The same is true for online education. It is best to determine what time of day and where you are most productive and can give your full attention to the coursework, and make that a habit.
It will become evident that online courses are not vastly different from traditional education. You will find that most things are shared in common, only it is predominantly the means by which information is transferred that is different. Following the 10 best tips for online college success guidelines above will allow effective online education and avoid some initial challenges.