There’s no need anymore to pack up and move to a different town or state for college. Online college classes make it possible to earn your degree from home. And if you’re a working student, they make it easy to fit in your college classes around your work schedule.
Of course, going to college online isn’t quite the same as going in person, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get just as much out of it. Your main objective at college is to learn the skills you need for a career, and you can do that online just as well as in person in many fields. However, many students also want to use college as an opportunity to network and make new friends. These tips can help you get the most out of your online college experience.
Set Up a Study Spot
Setting up a “study corner” in your home and using it consistently will help you make studying part of your routine. Experiment with different settings to see what kind of environment is most conducive to your academic success. For example, try working in a spare bedroom, at the coffee shop down the street, or at a local library. Whatever location you choose, make sure it has reliable high-speed internet access. If it’s a shared space, bring headphones. Keep your study materials well organized, whether in your desk or in your bookbag.
Cut Out Distractions
Some people can tune out background noise in order to concentrate, and others can’t. Figure out what your distractions are and try to eliminate them. That could mean keeping the TV off while you study in the living room, or waiting until the kids are in bed to do your coursework. You can turn your smartphone off to avoid the distraction of texts, calls, and notifications. You can use a website blocker to cut out distractions from social media websites.
Give Yourself a Schedule
You need to practice strong time management to juggle the workload of online college courses. At the beginning of every semester, open your planner and grab your course syllabi and put in your assignment due dates from the upcoming months. Factor in important personal events like vacations, anniversaries, weddings, or birthdays that might take your time away from your academic work. Schedule out each week, using time-blocking to set aside regular chunks of time to complete your coursework.
No one can force you to sit down and do your coursework. You have to have the self-discipline to complete your assignments on your own. Check in with yourself regularly and make sure you’re allotting enough time to your course assignments. If you’re struggling, enlist an accountability partner, such as your spouse, a friend, or even a classmate.
Engage with Your Classmates Online
People say that earning a bachelor’s, master’s, or UAGC Early Childhood Administration certificate online won’t allow you the chance to meet people and make friends the same way in-person classes would. But that all depends on how much work you put into engaging with your classmates. Check in with class discussion threads and participate in those discussions. Create a group chat for your class to discuss non-class related things. Form a virtual study group that meets regularly. If you have some classmates local to your area, meet with them outside of class for drinks or dinner.
Reach Out to Your Professor
Your professor absolutely wants to engage with you on a personal level. Most professors teaching online classes have virtual office hours so you can bring questions or concerns to them privately. You should reach out to your professor when you have questions about the coursework, or about an assignment, and need extra help. Professors are happy to provide additional guidance during office hours. If your professor’s virtual office hours don’t work with your schedule, you can even ask to schedule an appointment at a more appropriate time.
Developing a personal relationship with your professor means cultivating a mentor who may be able to help you find opportunities later, after you finish your degree. If you decide to go to graduate school, you may need letters of recommendation from your professors, and it’s easier to get them if you have cultivated a personal relationship with some of your professors so they know you well enough to know what to write.
Going to college online can be just as challenging as going in person – for a lot of people, it can even be more challenging. But with the right mindset, you can succeed, and get just as much out of an online college experience as you can out of an in-person one.