Whether you’re a traditional or non-traditional student, online classes can help you fit your education into your busy life. Many students are discovering the added flexibility of online programs. For example, one-third of all undergraduate students currently take at least one course online, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).
While online courses offer many benefits, they’re also different than traditional classes, and it’s important to know what to expect before you get started.
Here are seven success-tips for online students.
1. Be a responsible self-starter
It’s a myth that online classes are easier than on-campus ones. While you’ll have a lot more flexibility in your schedule, the coursework will be just as challenging as an on-campus class. As an online student, you need to hold yourself accountable and have a good sense of personal responsibility. Being a self-starter who can prioritize assignments and plan ahead is key to your success.
2. Make an effort to communicate with your classmates and professors
Even though you likely won’t meet your classmates or instructors in person, there are many ways online students can stay connected and feel like they are a part of the college community. Some students use social media groups to communicate with their classmates, and instructors often make themselves available to online students through video chat or by phone.
At Herzing, both online and on-campus students also have access to Canvas, which is a learning management system designed to help you stay organized. It also has a section called Canvas Conversations, which functions a lot like an email account and allows you to communicate with your classmates and instructors with ease. Check out this this blog post for more tips on using Canvas.
It’s also important to keep up on your emails as an online student, since you don’t have the advantage of hearing important reminders in class. You should check your school email at least once a day so that you don’t miss any important coursework or announcements. Respond to emails as soon as they come in, or you risk forgetting about them.
3. Studying is still necessary
Some online students don’t think they need to study because they can get away with using notes and other assistance while taking a test at home.
WRONG! Online classes aren’t free-for-alls where anything goes. Online learning software has dramatically improved over the years and many systems incorporate cheating detection technologies to deter students from cheating. Also, it’s not uncommon to be required to have a computer with a webcam so that you can be recorded taking your exam.
Make sure you’re paying attention to lectures, doing your readings, taking notes, and taking advantage of all the academic resources provided to you, just as you would in an on-campus class.
4. Learn to manage your time
When you’re an online student, your regular life doesn’t stop. If you don’t manage your time well, you’re going to struggle in finding a balance between school, work and your other commitments. Create a routine that works for you and helps you stay on top of your schoolwork. For example, if you regularly schedule a time each week to write out your upcoming to-dos, prep meals for work and school and do other housekeeping tasks, you’ll go into the week feeling more confident and organized.
Need some tips on how to get better at time management? Check out this blog post.
5. Get a planner or use a digital calendar
A planner or digital calendar can help keep you organized. Some people like old-fashioned, hand-written reminders, while others like to be able to manage their to-do list on the go in a calendar app on their smartphone. Whichever option you choose, a planner of some form will certainly help you succeed.
6. Find a quiet place to study and work
In order to perform well in a class, you’ll need a quiet place to study and take your exams and quizzes. If you’re a parent, finding a time and place to do your schoolwork can be difficult with children running around. If you have roommates, they could be a bigger distraction than you realize. No matter your situation, you need to find a location that allows you to focus.
Try to find a time at home when you can be alone without distractions, such as when your kids are at school or after they’ve gone to bed. If that’s not possible, see if you can take time out of your schedule to go to your local library. Many libraries have study rooms that you can reserve ahead of time for as long as you need. You’d be amazed at how much work you can get done when you set up a quality study environment.
7. Don’t forget to ask for help
If you are struggling in class, you should use Canvas to get in touch with your instructor and fellow students. Asking for help is a far better solution than struggling in silence. No matter the issue, your instructors can help you work through it and find success. They are there to help you, so don’t hesitate to reach out and ask for assistance!