In today’s world, physical presence is no longer a must. It’s the 21st century and its clear the future is among us. Technological advances now allow us to conduct business meetings with individuals who are thousand of miles away, or to shop in any country you wish with the click of a button. Increasingly, you can also get a degree without ever sitting in on a physical lecture.
Studies have found that many colleges are now offering fully online degrees at a rate of 62.4% of 2,820 colleges and universities surveyed. Around 33% of college students are now taking online courses or can expect to at some point in their college career.
With this increase of availability, more people are able to get a degree they otherwise may not have been able to. For example: older students who attended college previously but quit because they found they didn’t like sitting through lectures, those who are juggling a career or family, people who are wanting to advance their careers but current schedules don’t allow room for attending courses.
An online education is a great option for those who are not able to make traditional classes work for them, for whatever reason. There are many advantages of online courses, the major of these being flexibility, but there are also a couple of disadvantages.
The major disadvantages of achieving an online education are internal. Statistics show that online students are less likely to complete assignments and require more discipline than traditional students.
Throughout my experience, I can see how these are the main problems associated with online education. For me, this is something I need for my children and I, so it was not easy for me to become-or should I say remain- discouraged. I need this.
For others, it may be easier to throw in the towel.
But please don’t! I am here to offer a guide to online courses and how to succeed. The points of success include: motivation and dedication, keeping track of assignments, planning study times, and keeping in contact with your instructors.
Motivation and Dedication
The most important factors in your online education’s success are motivation and dedication. Your degree has to be something you truly want and are ready to work towards. For me, I found motivation through relationships:
- Relationships with your classes. Find classes that interest you, this way you will be more encouraged to partake and give them your all.
- Relationships with your instructors. Email your teachers when you have any questions or comments. If email is not suffice, call them or set up a face-to-face meeting. Having a relationship with your instructor helps to connect you with your class.
- Relationships with your college. Participate in a work-study program, volunteer at the school, or attend events. This also helps to connect you with your college and courses.
- Relationships with others. Talk to your close family and friends about your classes, due dates, tough assignments, or good grades. Those you are close to most likely want the best for you and will offer encouraging words to keep you going in the good times and the bad.
* Read my blog on motivation for more tips.
Keeping track of assignments
A great way to keep track of assignments is to have a variety of resources reminding you of your due dates.
Some of the resources you can use together include:
- Planner. A planner will help you to remember what assignments are due when. Write down the steps you need to complete to prepare for the assignment, and then highlight the assignment as pictured. Choose a separate color for each course for easy recognition.
- Wall Calendar. You can choose to write down the assignment, or just make a mark such as a line of color, representing a certain course, on the due date. This will be a quick visual as you may look at your calendar multiple times a day, and have that reminder.
- Weekly to-do list. Keep a notebook that you make to-do lists in every week. Choose a starting day that makes the most sense to your schedule (such as Tuesday if the majority of assignments are due Sunday and Monday). Routinely make your to-do lists with a detailed account of what your work-load is. Refer to this schedule daily and record progress.
Planning Study Time
For the majority of students taking online courses, time was the deciding factor for not attending college in the traditional way.
The general time recommended to spend studying for courses is 3 hrs per credit, and then you have your lecture. For a 3 credit course that would be 9 hours of studying, and typically a 3 hour lecture.
For an online student, you may not need the full twelve hours because you can get more done on your own than would get done during a lecture. I would recommend around 10-12 hours per week per course. Any student with a full schedule will easily need 40 hours in order to do their best in their class.
If you are someone with a busy schedule, finding these hours can be difficult but they really are necessary in order to succeed. Find time in every day to do something. Even if you choose a day or two of rest, go over your grades and upcoming assignments at least.
Once or twice a week you should have a handful of hours set aside strictly for school work. Set the day(s) and time and stick to it.
Keeping in contact with your instructor
Not only can keeping in contact with your instructor help increase motivation but it really is essential to your success.
In a traditional college environment you get to meet with your teachers and have access to them at least once a week. As an online student, contacting your instructor will be up to you.
It is important for you to recognize when you need help and to get a hold of your instructors. They are there to provide you with the tools you need to succeed but you have to let them know how to help you.
Do not be afraid to contact an instructor with questions on a grade, an assignment or a subject. By using email and phone to contact your instructor you will be able to gain the information you need to continue your success.
Online education is a great tool for those who cannot attend college as a traditional student. Although it comes with its own difficulties, I am positive that implementing these strategies 1) staying motivated 2)keeping track of assignments 3)planning study time and 4)keeping in contact with instructors, will help you to succeed.
Finding what works best for you is always the key to success, and if an online education is what fits your success story, then I advise you to get to it!