Tips for Successfully Obtaining a Degree Online

Aug 12, 2018 by

Online education is quickly becoming the way of the world. Whether it’s adults deciding to go back to school or young students seeking an alternative to traditional dorm life, obtaining an online degree has never been easier. Hundreds of universities offer thousands of different degree programs and they’re all accessible from the comfort of your home. All you need is a reliable computer and a WiFi connection. Or is there more to it? There are certain character traits that will ensure your success as an online student. And here they are!

Get the Required Materials

You may not be visiting the college bookstore when it comes time to begin your online courses, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need supplies. Each course will require certain things, so it’s important to read over the course requirements before the semester starts. You’ll want a reliable computer, laptop or tablet with the necessary programs and features needed for each class. These may include certain video players or other items you need to download. Many online courses also feature interactive elements including classroom forums and even real-time videos and tutorials. If you’re the type of learner who works best using a pad and pencil to take notes, get those ready. You may want to designate a specific area of the house as your “classroom” as well. Whether it’s a desk in your bedroom or an office space, create an area that will help support your learning process.  It doesn’t hurt to reach out to your instructor with any additional questions or concerns prior to the start of the semester so that you’re prepared and ready on day one.

Preparing for the semester to begin may also mean brushing up on basic computer skills. Most courses will require you to email your teacher, upload files and assignments, use Google docs and other online tools. Familiarizing yourself with these techniques beforehand will ensure your assignments are submitted on time and using the correct format. The dog ate my homework excuse no longer holds water, especially at the college level. That means that most instructors won’t accept the excuse that your computer crashed or deleted your document before you saved it. Practice writing something and saving it to both your computer and a flash drive. Send emails with attachments to friends and make sure they received them. Getting all of this out of the way before the semester begins will help you start off on the right foot.

Create a Schedule

Along with creating a space for productivity comes a schedule. That’s one of the many benefits of taking a online course – flexibility. The freedom to work when the mood strikes you and at whatever time of day you focus best. Maybe it’s late at night or early in the morning. Whenever your window of creativity might be, make sure you create a schedule that supports this. It may mean altering your current work schedule if you have a job. Or asking your parents or roommates to respect your working time during certain hours of the day. It’s all too easy to let things go to the wayside when it comes to earning your online degree. Without a specifically designed class schedule, you may find yourself procrastinating and eventually rushing to complete assignments. Don’t let this be you.

Find Your Inner Discipline

This is one of the most important elements of obtaining an online degree. You need self-discipline and focus. Because you’re not required to physically attend class, you need to practice time management in order to complete assignments and meet the course requirements. Some online courses will require you to log-in at a specific time for a live streaming video or other timed event. But much of the work assigned for online courses is completed in your own time frame. Most online courses provide a syllabus similar to one you’d receive in class. This syllabus will give you a rough outline of how the semester will progress, detailing exam and assignment due dates. Mark these down on your calendar or whatever tool you use for organizing important information and dates. Stick to the schedule you created. This may mean forgoing a party or dinner with friends because you have a research paper to write. You must be your own keeper and remind yourself that an online course is just as important as attending one on campus. And if you want to pass your classes and obtain your degree, you need to remain disciplined.

Think About the Future

Most degrees outline a list of necessary courses one must take in order to fully complete the program. This means certain courses have prerequisites, meaning you must complete an entry level course in a similar subject before enrolling for the next, more advanced class. Keep this in mind if and when you’re struggling through a certain class that may be less than engaging. Sometimes, you have to grin and bear it in order to move forward. Think about why you started this program and what goals you have in mind. Maybe it’s a specific career you’re pursuing or this degree is required for your dream job. Whatever the motivation is, find it and remind yourself of it daily.

Find a Friend

With so many awesome messaging apps and community boards used for online courses, there’s no limit to how many friendships you can form. Find a classmate that shares the same goals and work ethic as you. If you live close to one another, schedule study dates and other ways to meet and help one another with the course work. Perhaps you can meet at a local library where you both work on your assignments. This will help with accountability and keeping the schedule and discipline discussed earlier.

Online courses open up a world of opportunity for students young and old. But regardless of if you’re going back to school or just starting out, these same basic principles apply and will ensure your success.

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