Online education is more popular than ever, as more universities are offering degree programs online for distance learners. While separate from direct physical contact with classmates and faculty, earning a degree or professional certificate online carries just as much weight as earning it on a college campus.
The nature of online certificates and degrees, however, tends to require a slightly different skill set from traditional studies. The convenience and flexibility of earning a degree or certificate online can be beneficial for many students, but typically requires strong time management skills. This article highlights some tips for succeeding with this new style of learning.
5 Tips to Succeed
- Time management: While some programs include a degree of structure, most online courses are designed for students without fixed schedules. When faced with nothing but a list of materials and a due date, it is essential to manage time wisely. Procrastinators may find it difficult to stay up-to-date with lectures and readings, significantly reducing the quality of their individual learning experience. To succeed with an online course, it is important to take it seriously and treat it as any other obligation.
- Communication skills: Some students may feel a bit detached from professors in an online classroom without the experience of face-to-face contact. Fortunately, there are tools designed specifically to remedy this and facilitate dialogue. Students should be aware of the communication options available and not hesitate to use them when a need arises. Remember, just because students may not see a teacher in person, it does not mean that teachers are not invested in the student’s success in the course. On a related note, digital contact with others has the same social requirements as non-digital contact. It is important to be civil and polite with teachers and classmates to ensure a healthy learning environment for everyone.
- Study environment: Online education has the added benefit of allowing study from anywhere. With this in mind, it is wise to choose a study environment that facilitates learning without distractions. Consider turning off your cell phone and avoiding unrelated Internet surfing while working on your studies. If you choose to study in a public place, be sure that other patrons do not distract you from your work. Whether public or private, students should be working in a comfortable space with good lighting and seating so that they can focus entirely on the task at hand.
- Study plan: Related to the general importance of time management is the benefit of establishing a specific study schedule. This does not have to mean sacrificing other important responsibilities, however. Students can and should make time for all important parts of life. Rather, it’s a good idea to budget a few hours each week on dedicated online learning. Just as with other responsibilities, students should treat these hours as important and non-negotiable.
- Your employer: Keeping in touch with an employer is another smart, helpful tip for online students. Don’t be afraid to share your online education pursuits. Keeping quiet may actually make it harder to gain work support. Employers may be willing to help you earn a degree in your free time, as long as it doesn’t interfere with your normal work responsibilities. Some employers may even offer tuition assistance for part of your studies if it’s relatable to the business.