Congratulations! You’ve decided to pursue your higher education and doing so online is the way to go if you are interested in a flexible, student-centered learning approach. Studying online allows you to pursue other interests and attend to other obligations while still working toward a degree. However, this can sometimes mean that it’s easy to get distracted. Here are 10 easy steps to ensure success in your online classes.
1. Connect with your instructors as soon as possible.
Even if you are doing well in the class, it’s extremely important to build up a rapport with your instructor. Building a rapport early on provides you with the course priorities and your professor’s expectations of you. This connection will help you stay motivated to succeed, know what’s ahead, and remain prepared for the upcoming material.
In addition, since instructors are available to help throughout the duration of a course, it’s always good to have personal contact with the instructor early on. This way, when you need help, it’s easier to reach out and get the assistance you need.
2. Confirm the technical requirements of the course
Online classes can be very beneficial for students with busy schedules, but only if they can easily access the materials. It is important to clearly understand the technical requirements of an online course. Before the course starts or as soon as possible, make sure your computer will work with all the online tools. Once you have confirmed your computer is compatible, learn how to navigate the online tools. This will ensure you won’t waste time during the course wrestling with any unfamiliar technology.
3. Create a schedule and stick to it
Quality online instructors create courses that are easy to navigate and have clear expectations. Having that kind of easy-to-manage framework in place will make studying and succeeding that much easier. However, even if the framework and requirements of your class are clear, you should create your own schedule and structure to greatly improve your chances of success in the course. Using tools such as Google Calendar are a great place to start. Knowing how your weeks and months look and setting aside study time for each task or module will help you stick to a schedule.
4. Always ask questions
When you don’t understand, ask questions. When you do understand, ask clarifying questions. Instructors appreciate students who participate, and if there is a participation or discussion component part of the grade, then asking quality questions helps assure your grade in this area. Even if there is not a participation component, it is always useful to ask questions to make sure you understand the material and are clear on what is required of you.
5. Stay organized
Students who are taking traditional, campus-based courses usually have a consistent schedule to follow each week that includes classroom instruction followed by assignments outside the class. However, for online courses, students may have to find other ways to stay on top of their work. It is imperative that you continue to stay organized throughout the entire semester. For example, mark assignment due dates in your calendar, find a filing system for both online and physical materials and make clear study schedules that separate different sections of the course. This way you have an organized strategy encompassing the entire semester’s material.
6. Have a clean, quiet and consistent workspace
One thing online and in-class courses have in common is that students always need a place to study or complete assignments that is clean, quiet and consistent. You can choose where this is for you – whether it’s at a coffee shop, a school library, a dedicated office or at home. Wherever you choose to study and complete assignments, you should make it a consistent location that does not have outside distractions. It is absolutely key that the place is quiet and allows you to focus on your work without distractions.
7. Do not procrastinate
Successful distance learners rarely procrastinate. They don’t put off assignments or wait until the last moment to write their papers. Successful online students enjoy freedoms that include working at their own pace and the ability to complete their work in as much time as it takes them. On the other hand, they know that completing their assignments is best done early and on time – cramming simply doesn’t work, and it doesn’t help you retain information long-term. Get started early to become successful.
8. Work on your reading comprehension
Successful distance learners tend to have good reading comprehension skills. Most traditional, campus-based students listen to lectures and take notes, and some online courses also require this. However, the majority of distance learners are expected to master material through a considerable amount of reading. Although some distance learning courses offer video recordings and audio clips, most programs require students to cover and master a large amount of written information. If this is difficult for you, consider enrolling in FNU’s reading comprehension course first – there are also many online resources to help you with this. This skill alone can make an enormous difference in your success.
9. Establish and respect routines that work for you
If you work best in the morning or in short bursts, then set study routines that allow you to study in the pre-lunch hours when your brain is fresh. On the other hand, if you do best by studying at night or on the weekends make it a point to do so. Consider how and when you work best and implement a study plan that respects the routines that work for you.
10. Connect with your peers
Establishing strong connections with peers and professors is an important aspect of educational success, as well as professional advancement. One of the most rewarding experiences in education is learning through collaboration. Forming meaningful relationships with your peers and professors can allow you to learn more, stay motivated and have an outlet to express your own understanding of subject matter. So, stay connected through message boards, chat rooms, email and other virtual resources. And remember – many of the people you meet in college will be possible job resources down the line – so establish connections and stay in touch.
Florida National University offers a wealth of educational and professional online courses. Check out all the options – your future is waiting.