7 Things I Wish I Knew Before Taking Online Classes
Online education can be a great option for students who have a busy lifestyle. I started taking online courses at Herzing University during the second semester of my business management program, and I have really enjoyed the flexibility that it offers.
Like many online students, it did take some time for me to adjust to a new style of learning. Here are a few of the lessons I’ve learned along the way:
1. Time management is everything
Having the flexibility to learn on your own schedule is a great benefit of online classes, but it also makes strong time management skills even more important. It can be easy to procrastinate on assignments, so you need to have a system in place to hold yourself accountable. Consider setting aside a block of time each day to focus on your coursework.
I also recommend using a planner or a time management app to keep track of all of your assignments and deadlines. I’ve learned that I’m most successful when I plan ahead; I often start on assignments ahead of time and complete them before the assigned due date.
2. It’s time to get organized
Some people like to print out all of their class materials and keep separate folders for each course. Others like to have everything on their computer or laptop so they can access it from anywhere. Whatever your preference, develop a system so that you know where all of your notes, readings and study materials are when you need them. Staying organized will ensure that you don’t miss any important deadlines or assignments.
3. Online classes are just as rigorous as on-campus classes
Some people think that online courses are easier than traditional classroom learning. Do not believe this myth! You can get just as much out of your online education as you would on-campus. Deciding which learning environment is right for you, however, depends on your life situation and your learning style.
We all prefer to learn in different ways and online classes are not for everyone. I find that the flexibility of online classes works well for me and allows me to be more productive with my time.
4. You will need a computer
If you are going to enroll in an online program, you will need access to a desktop computer or a laptop. While you can use a mobile device or a tablet when you’re on the go, you should not rely on these as your primary devices. I’ve had trouble using my tablet in the past because not all pages are designed for mobile access.
If you’re not sure that you have the right device, you can check with your professor or the IT department. It’s also a good idea to a have a backup plan in case you are have technical issues. For example, you could always use a computer at your local library.
5. Make an effort to connect with your instructors
It’s important to establish a relationship with your instructors. I’ve found that I am more engaged and successful in class when I participate and ask questions. Also, remember that you can always reach out to your instructors via email or phone if you are having trouble in a course or need some extra help on an assignment. Just because you are not in a classroom does not mean you are not supported.
6. Get to know your classmates
Interacting with your classmates makes learning more fun and helps you feel like you’re a part of a college community. Herzing’s online learning platform, Canvas, makes it very easy for online students to get to know each other. We often talk via the messaging function and engage in thoughtful conversations through our weekly discussion boards.
Social media is also a great place to share insights or trade study tips. Ask your classmates if they have a Facebook or WhatsApp group where they communicate outside of class. If not, take the lead and create one.
7. Make the most of your experience
Online learning is great for my schedule, but sometimes I miss having the company of others while I’m doing my homework or studying for an exam. I try to keep it fresh by going to the local library, a coffee shop, or a friend’s house – anywhere where I can get WiFi and get my work done. The best thing about online learning is that you can do whatever works best for you! Try to have fun with it as much as you can.
If you’re looking for a little more flexibility in your education, I highly recommend online courses. It might take some time to adjust, but if you stay focused, use your time wisely and work on building relationships with your professors and your peers, you will be successful. These tips have helped me have a positive experience with online classes, and I hope they will do the same for you. Good luck!