While being able to take online courses and obtain a certification or degree via an online university or institution is extremely convenient for busy adults, it is not as simple as many may think. Freedom to choose times that most conveniently fit into your busy schedule is a huge advantage but also requires a great deal of planning and self-determination to accomplish. Some people do not deal well with too much freedom, but that can be changed with a few little tricks used to become the best online student in your class.
1. Be your own super-secretary.
This may seem the most evident key to being a successful online student, however, it is probably the most frequently overlooked. Sure, you may know exactly how much time you should spend daily on projects, presentations or papers. You may even have a schedule filled out with the tasks you intend to accomplish on any given day. This shows a positive, forward thinking mindset and a sincere attempt to excel.
However, thanks to everyone’s worst friend, Mr. Procrastination, things don’t always work out as planned. It is precisely because of our tendency to procrastinate on important tasks that it is so important to be our own “super-secretary”. By literally developing a schizophrenic personality you can use the secretary personality to tell your regular personality to follow through on your schedule and stick to it. When you write something down, make yourself do it, no matter what.
2. Treat the internet as reality.
People have a tendency to act very differently online than in reality. The most evident case of this is in forum comments or Facebook comments where usually tame mannered individuals post hateful, aggressive or offensive responses that are often unwarranted. While this is not that big of a deal, if it’s on a video game forum or personal chat with a friend, however, when dealing with online educational institutions, you should use the same proper manners and etiquette you use in real life.
A good general rule of thumb is to only write things that you would be comfortable saying to someone’s face. This way you don’t have to worry about anyone being offended or creating a potentially awkward situation for yourself in the future.
3. Invest in the tools of your trade.
Picasso wouldn’t want to paint with broken paintbrushes and Mario Andretti wouldn’t want to race a car with only 3 tires. Meaning, in order to excel at anything you do, you need adequate tools to facilitate your work. While determination, planning and hard work make up 90% of the formula, you will still need to rely 10% on tools in order to be truly be successful.
Succeeding at online education requires a few things. Firstly, you will need reliable access to a stable internet connection. Secondly, you will need a computer with sufficient processing power to run word processing software, play videos, download files and connect to online classrooms.
Most public libraries offer computers with such capabilities, however, the most convenient solution would be to have a desktop or laptop in your home so you can access course materials or email with immediacy. Nothing fancy is required, so you can probably find a reasonably priced computer at any local electronics shop.
Perhaps consider investing in a laptop, which will allow you to work from any remote location that has a secure internet connection.
4. Find a friend in your class.
Just like when you were in grade school, one of the best ways to get help in school is to make friends. In school, having friends makes cooperation in group projects easier, makes confusing subject matter clearer and makes for a more friendly environment overall. If you didn’t understand the curriculum taught on any given day, you could call up or meet with your friend and ask them to help explain. A good friend will have your back and you will have theirs, and this security makes accomplishing any difficult task much easier.
Obviously, being online, you are probably not going to meet up with your instructor or classmates in person, however you can consider reaching out to them digitally to establish and “e-friendship”, which will function very similarly to an in-person relationship and make working together and solving problems related to schoolwork much easier. Email, instant chat, or Facebook all provide avenues to creating a mutually beneficial “e-relationship”.
5. Take pride in your work.
Some people look down on online education as an inferior substitute for more traditional forms of education. These people do not understand fully the potential of the internet and have yet to realize they are living in an ever-increasing digital world. If taxes can be filed online, are they less “real” than filing taxes on paper in person? The answer is no. Many services and functions of the internet are just as “real” as established brick-and-mortar institutions. By realizing the value and importance of your online education, you will be able to take pride in your accomplishments and maximize the potential of your learning experience.