If you’ve just signed up for an online course and assume it’s all about watching lectures in your PJs and taking exams from your couch, think again. While online education offers more flexibility, it still takes plenty of hard work to stay on top of your courses. Online learners are held to the same rigorous expectations as those who take classes on campus. The problem is that without the obligation of physically going to class, it’s easy for some to make excuses or lose track of important dates. Staying organized is half the battle.
Here is a checklist to help you get organized before you start your new adventure in online education.
1) Purchase school supplies that are similar to the ones you would use for in-person classes. Paper, notebooks, pencils, pens, a good computer and a planner will all help you stay organized.
2) Order your books right away. You don’t want to have to worry about them not arriving before you begin classes.
3) Make sure you have a good study space. Create an environment where you can get your work done in peace. If you don’t have an office in your house or a room that you can use for your studies, go to the library or another quiet location. You need to have a place where you can spread out and spend as much time as possible on your studies without constant interruptions.
4) Make sure your computer is in good condition. An older computer may seem fine, but it will need to have enough storage to handle downloads, for example. You might need to get a flash drive to save your documents in case of a disaster, such as if your computer crashes and loses important files. Take good care of your computer because it will be your main device for coursework.
5) Get a calendar and a day planner for important dates. Once you can get into your classes, find the syllabus right away. The syllabus has important items such as your instructor’s contact information and office hour times. More importantly, it will probably contain dates for when assignments are due. Make notes of these in your calendar. This will help you break down what needs to be accomplished each week.
6) Make sure to have good Internet service. – a spotty connection simply won’t do. Also, establish a backup plan in case of an Internet outage. For example, many fast food restaurants have free Wi-Fi.
7) Keep up a strong line of communication with your professor. Educators recognize that things come up and occasionally students need extra help or extensions due to unforeseen circumstances. By at least sending your instructor an email, you are letting them know that you care about your grade and that you are working on things. Most instructors are understanding and will work with you if you keep that line open.
Remember, going back to school should be fun! You are here to learn and to enjoy the experience. You will have obstacles that might come up, but persevere and remember why it is that you started this adventure in the first place. Happy learning!
Kara Silvers has been with Herzing University for over five years. She came on with over 12 years of experience in the field of billing and coding. She teaches medical billing and coding courses for the University.