The simple concept of online courses makes one think that they would be convenient, simple, and easy to conquer. While they do offer a large amount of freedom, online courses require far more organization and discipline than most people realize. I for one was required to do my classes online for a time while I worked a full-time job in order to support myself.
In a situation like that, an online course or courses is perfect because you can make your own schedule, but unlike other types of college courses, they don’t have specific times each week where you’re required to be present. In many cases, you are expected to log in at least once a day.
At eApplicants, I can help you find the company to provide you the career of your dreams, or one to help you pay your way through college. First you need to get that degree though, so let’s explore five great ways you can keep yourself focused and organized while taking online courses.
5 Tactics and Strategies to Ace Your Online Courses
Making an online course work requires a lot of personal effort, but there are also plenty of ways you can make it easier on yourself. Here are five of the best ways to succeed in your internet based college courses.
1. Understand the Technical Requirements
Online courses will specify what kind of computer software and internet browser are best for their respective classes. Beyond confirming these things, you should also put your computer through its paces. Run your virus scanning programs, check your licenses on things like Microsoft Word and Microsoft PowerPoint so you know you have those tools up and running.
Each college also utilizes a different type of online course system so it helps to familiarize yourself with it before the classes get into full swing I have even seen vastly different methods of organizing, delivering, and receiving assignments so it’s better to know all of these things going in.
2. Introduce Yourself to the Instructors Early On
Lionel Finey, a previous student of Wake Forest University said in an article by U.S News that “Once I started coordinating with my instructor, I realized I needed to change my writing style. You have to really stay in contact, it’s extremely important.”
It’s true, having a rapport with your instructor can do wonders for your personal experience in an online course. Understanding the person who is grading your work will go a long way towards providing results that consistently receive higher marks because you have a deeper understanding of the rubric.
It’s also important though to understand that these types of course don’t allow for instant communication. If you have a question, most times it is more advantageous to you that you seek answers somewhere else on the internet instead of waiting for a classmate or instructor to respond.
3. Make a Schedule, Stick to it
While it’s always advised to look into websites like Rate My Professor to see how instructors are rated by their previous students, the most organized courses will give you a bird’s eye view of the class and show you a detailed layout of the assignment schedule and assignments. This kind of hands-on look into the class will give you the opportunity to create a schedule of your own.
Programs like Microsoft Office or Google Docs will allow you to make spreadsheets where you can plan out when and how you’ll accomplish each week’s work. This empowers you in ways that only an online class can to do the work around your own schedule.
4. Always Stay Organized
Possibly one of the best tips I can offer you is organization, but beyond that I have to insist that it’s a consistent focus for you. Since these classes will lay everything out for you to see, you have no excuse not to take advantage of these resources to structure your schedule and manage your time.
In many cases you won’t receive notifications or warnings if you’re about to miss an assignment or due date. Online courses expect students to constantly maintain their own schedule and be aware of upcoming tasks, assignments, and tests. You should arrange your desk or work area to be clean and free of noise and distractions. You can also store files in folders on your desktop to keep all the classes separate.
5. Respect Your Workspace
Working from home or outside of a classroom setting can be an intense mental and physical strain on you. It requires practiced focus that takes some people years to truly possess. What makes the transition easier by far is a consistent space where you know you can go to work and not be bothered by the outside world.
It can be your bedroom, a coffee shop, or a library, but it needs to be consistent and it has to be a place that is respected by those around you. Being bothered, disturbed, or otherwise placed in a chaotic environment is counterproductive in the purest form of the world. Plan for a place that you can have to call your own ahead of time.
4 Pieces of Technology Every Online Student Needs
The above tips and strategies are paramount in succeeding, but you also need a few extra things to give yourself the best chance of success. While it’s true that many online courses don’t require iPads or supercomputers, there is something to be said about the added convenience of a mobile device or a lightning fast computer.
That being said, don’t go (log) into an online class without at least a few of these items:
- A Printer
- An Online Tool for Bibliographies (Easybib.com is perfect for this)
- Software for Note-taking
- A Web Camera or Headset
Online courses are perfect for anyone with any schedule. As we all know, it’s never too late to get your education, so don’t let that full-time job stop you. Buckle down, keep these tips in mind, and forge yourself a future by finishing your education and getting your degree!