Online learning is booming, and increasing numbers of learners of all ages are turning to online colleges and universities to meet their educational needs. For the new online student, however, this type of education can be a bit of a shock. First, there are no lectures unless you are in a synchronous course that provides video conferencing. There is also no set schedule, and in many cases there is no set start and end times for courses. This lack of structure can be a bit overwhelming to some and can lead less motivated students to fail in their educational attempts. If you are considering online learning as an option, there are definitely some steps you can take to make sure you have the highest possibility for success.
Secret One: Technology Is Everything
It is no secret that you will need a computer and Internet access to get a degree online. However, just any computer and Internet access will not cut it. You need a dependable, fast computer that is capable of playing multimedia clips as well as multitasking without getting bogged down. You also need a fast Internet connection, ideally around 12 mbps or more, that can handle streaming media as well as uploading and downloading of large amounts of information. Depending upon your courses, you will also need Acrobat or another PDF reader, a media player, and other programs that will allow you to access your coursework and to complete your assignments. You must also have a web browser that is compatible with your school’s learning management system. Many schools use Blackboard, which works great with Safari, Firefox, and Chrome, but may give problems with you try to access it through Internet Explorer.
Secret Two: Become a Master of Time
While the flexibility and promise of earning a degree on your own schedule may sound like it is easy on time, the opposite is true. As an online student, you will spend much more time and energy in courses than you would in a brick-and-mortar setting. Even students who can coast by in a regular class may find it difficult to succeed online.
The key to success is to master time management. Not all professors will have concrete due dates, making it very tempting to procrastinate. Unfortunately, this procrastination will leave you scrambling at the last minute and often turning in substandard work and making poor grades. Even if your professor does not set a due date for weekly discussions and other work, set your own deadlines and make sure to meet them. If there are particular days of the week on which you cannot do school work, schedule accordingly and make sure you accomplish more on the other days. A good schedule and strict self-discipline makes all the difference in your success in online programs.
Secret Three: Hone Your Writing Talents
Many online courses are made up almost entirely of writing assignments. Regardless of how well you know the material and concepts, poor grammar and spelling can cost you valuable points in your classes. If you are not a strong writer, look to writing guides online such as the Online Writing Laboratory to help you polish your skills. It is also important to become familiar with APA, MLA, and other writing styles so you will be ready for any challenge.
Secret Four: Treat Your Education as an Investment
Your education is one of the most important investments you will ever make in yourself. Treat it as such by putting in all the time and effort you can. After all, your degree is your key to better job opportunities and a higher salary for the rest of your life. Give your studies priority and make sure you fully learn all the material. This will leave you prepared for any opportunities that come your way after graduation and will ensure that you maximize your potential.
Online courses can be exceptionally challenging and demanding, but can also help you to meet your life’s goals. Follow these secrets to online success to make the most of your educational opportunity so you can reap the rewards for years to come.