When people, especially fathers, mothers, and busy working professionals think about going back to class, many see no way of squeezing campus into their already hectic routines. Taking online classes can help with that time crunch and save these people several hours every week, which they can convert into home study time. The courses are a perfect way for busy people to gain advanced certifications and training or even switch career paths. They are an effective way for first time job seekers who require specialized training to improve their job prospects. However, for you to excel, you need to take note of the following five tips to help you succeed in an online course.
Tip 1: Time Management
Time management is the biggest factor in succeeding in your online course, and students have to be proactive in their studies by taking responsibility for their learning. The first thing is to determine the time of day you will be most focused on your classes. Different people concentrate at different times so you should narrow in on a time of day and reserve a designated allotment to dedicate to your studies. With a proper time management plan, nothing can be an obstacle to your online study.
Here is how to develop a basic time management strategy for your online study to reduce stressful academic schedules:
- Have a Calendar. This is a great way to keep track of your test assignment due dates and you can use a blackboard which has an in-built calendar that allows you to view and create time;
- Write Things Down. Get a dedicated notebook for assignments and keep it a physical reminder of the things to accomplish. Each time a new task comes up like picking a paper topic; write it down in the notebook. The tasks will encourage you to look over other tasks that need to be completed;
- Block Times for Regular Assignments. Set a block of time for tasks and assignments that occur weekly or daily;
- Schedule Your Day. Set a time to complete each task and be realistic about the amount of time you need to complete the tasks. You should work in short concentrated bursts spread over the week or day rather than taking a marathon.
Tip 2: Have All the Technical Requirements
Online classes do benefit students with busy schedules, but it can only work if you have access to the necessary study materials. You must understand the technical requirements you need to have. Most online learners cite the internet as the most important requirement they need to succeed. However, there are still other technology items that each student should have. Some of them are listed below:
- Tools for Easy Bibliographies. As an online student, just like your peers in conventional schools, you have to write papers. This means you need to know the correct format for citing the work you reference. You need to look for the online tools to help with bibliography formatting; some of them are free while others are paid for.
- Note Taking Software. Contrary to the belief that online students do not require notes, the reverse is entirely true. Most use programs to highlight and also comment on readings and lectures. You can check online for programs that allow multiple users to take, share and archive notes. You can use these services as information dumps where you store your work organized between semesters and classes.
- A Printer. As an online student you are not liberated from hard copies, you still need to handle some printed materials like research papers. You can also print out some the E-books that your lecturers provide into PDFs for easy viewing. Invest in a portable printer you can transport to meetings and travel with. Having your own machine will save you the trouble of waiting or walking to a printing store.
Tip 3: Speak Up When You Have Burning Issues and Questions
Always remember your instructor cannot see you, hence you should be completely explicit with your requests and comments. Whenever you are faced with technical issues and problems understanding something, you have to speak up or no one will know about it. You should look at it from the point of probably several other people have the same problem, so reinforce your knowledge by being proactive in class sessions with both fellow students and your lecturer. With the growing numbers of online campuses and programs, you need to be sure that you are not wasting your time and money on badly taught courses. Some of the questions you can ask your tutor before signing up include:
- How flexible are you with adult learners?
- How promptly do you respond to student emails?
- Do you utilize new technologies in the course?
- Are you skilled at using various software programs?
Asking questions is an integral part of learning. By asking questions, your fellow students and lecturers tend to go deeper into the subject, which makes the subject more understandable. It is a valuable recourse in support for an online learning experience. An online course environment typically provides communication tools like live chats, email connectivity and threaded discussions for students to use and ask practical questions. You can take time and craft your own questions, which stem beyond what one would ask in a traditional classroom probing the topic with much specificity.
Tip 4: Staying Motivated
The flexibility of online study creates many amazing opportunities for many students. However, it can also lead to lost focus and struggles with motivation. This is a self-directed study and finding ways to keep going is key to success. There are many things a student can do to stay motivated, and the ideas below can help you out:
- Creating Realistic Goals. Excitement over starting an online program can cause some students to set big goals and take more work than they can handle. However, it is good to set simple and realistic goals which when you accomplish, they inspire you to keep working. You can make a list of things you need to accomplish for your studies, including extracurricular activities and rank them according to their order of importance.
- Make Connections. You will feel as if you are working in a vacuum, and it can be hard to keep in mind how what you are studying can lead to real-time results. You can find motivation by connecting what you are learning to what you will become after graduating.
- Make Time for Yourself. You should always give yourself a breather in between studies to retain your focus. It can be hard to find time for yourself between school, work and extra curriculum activities. Having time for yourself can help you avoid a study burnout. Knowing you need time to enjoy a night out with friends without feeling guilty and still finish your class work can motivate you to keep the fire burning.
- Keep it positive. You can motivate yourself by staying positive. You should not allow yourself to succumb to negative thoughts and attitudes about schoolwork since such thoughts can lead to bad habits like skipping lessons and not completing assignments. This will definitely lower your grades, but keeping it positive makes learning very interesting.
Tip 5: Balance Personal Obligations
Students take online courses for different reasons, but the main one is to enjoy the convenience that comes with it. However, you should learn how to balance between your personal obligations and your studies. Regardless of whether you run a fulltime business, job or you just want to avoid traffic you need to make everything a juggling act. This requires a lot discipline, panning and proper organization so that you do not feel overwhelmed on one side. When you allow this to happen chances are that you are going to compromise on your studies and all the initial effort and zeal you invested in your studies will go to waste. If you have children, sick people or the elderly, you need to plan for their care. If you are a career person, you can consider professional childcare services.
You should talk to your employer about your interest to go back to school. Keeping quiet will make this life difficult for you, since you might not get the support you need at your work place. Think about days when you have to leave some minutes earlier to join an online video lecturing or chat sessions. You will feel more relaxed and confident to ask for permission when your employer knows you are studying.