Getting an education can be one of the best ways to advance your career, get a better job, and improve your life.
However, traditional colleges and universities may not be the solution for everyone. Some have to work to support their family, don’t have a way to relocate to attend school, or may want to have the ability to take classes from their home for other reasons. For them, an accredited online college or university may fit their needs. However, not everyone is prepared for the challenge of online classes. It is important to plan your life so that you reach your education goals.
Where Do I Start?
Before you even sign up for classes, you have to take some steps to make sure you are going in the right direction by:
- Researching the school you want to attend
- Select the right field of study or program for you
- Secure the financing whether it be student loans, grants, or cash
- Make sure all of your paperwork is completed and submitted
Preparing for Class
Before your classes begin, it is important to set yourself up for success. The requirements for schools differ, so make sure you have all that is required.
- Reliable access to the internet
- Access to a computer
- Required software for classes
- Organized workspace to work in
Planning for Success
Attending online classes takes drive and dedication due to the fact that there is not a set time to be in a physical class. It requires good time management skills to keep up.
- Create a calendar to list deadlines, projects, assignments, and classes on
- Set reasonable time schedules to complete tasks
- Leave yourself time for unplanned events
- Don’t over-book your schedule believing you can do more than you can
Each school, and even class, can have different requirements. Some may require a set number of log-ins per week, team projects, submissions, and participation requirements. Be sure you know what the requirements are.
- Be an active participant with the instructor and other students
- Ask questions frequently
- Submit assignments early whenever possible
- Be involved in the learning process
The online learning environment is very different from attending classes in a traditional setting. It requires more personal effort to be present in the virtual classroom. While the virtual classroom can be an enriching and active environment, it is not the same as having the instructor and classmates right there with you. It is important to connect and share with others in an online setting. The more effort you put into the experience, the more you will get out of it.
Simply meeting the bare requirements for participation, team projects, and assignments may get you a passing grade, however it can also limit the benefits of the class.
Building a relationship with fellow students and your instructor may not seem important, however, you may find at some point that it is. When issues arise and you need help, you may have to turn to other students in your class. This can be easier to do if you have a connection to them. Another factor is letters of reference from your instructor.
An instructor who does not feel that they know you will be resistant to writing a letter of recommendation, even if you have good grades in their class. Attending online colleges and universities can open the doors of education to many who may not be able to attend any other way. However, the responsibility of succeeding rests far more on the student in this environment. You will be the key to your success.