12 Habits of Highly Successful CTU Students
By Jon Bottari, M.Ed. – Adjunct Faculty, Director of Academic Evaluation
Nearly one-third of all students pursuing a degree are doing so in a non-traditional sense. With all the priorities you’re balancing, today’s educational environment requires agility to succeed.
The biggest adjustment for today’s online learners is learning through interactive media and in a different format than you might be used to. Whether you’re making the transition from one college to another, or starting a completely original academic journey, it’s important to create a sense of stability for yourself, and develop good habits that can see you through to the end.
At CTU, we’ve observed a core set of characteristics and behaviors among successful students that can serve as a roadmap to achieving your educational goals. We took the opportunity to review the engagement patterns of 1,000 graduates to help define what helped them to be successful online school students:
- Participate in the Virtual Campus (VC) on the first day of a new session. Getting into the classroom on day one sets you up for success. You’re less likely to fall behind when you engage in the class right away, and if you have questions you can get them answered early. Activity on the first day helps you build out your strategy for the entire session, so you know what lies ahead.
- Log into the VC, on average, six or more times a week. You probably check your Facebook page, your personal email or your fantasy football team more than six times a week. Give the Virtual Campus higher priority and add it to your check-in cycle so you’re always informed of University and class-specific information. For maximum benefit: Log in before your assignment due dates so you meet the deadline, check in on the days your grades post and attend your live or archived chats. This pattern will help you reach the target of six times per week and keep you on a regular pattern of checking in.
- Commit to logging in to Course Pages of the VC for 6 hours a week. Every class will have different assignments, so the time you spend in each can vary. Graduates spent approximately six hours per week in the classroom, which is twice that of an average current student. Once you’re on a pattern of logging in six times per week, make sure to extend your visits by reading a few more discussion posts, re-reading your grading feedback, or review a portion of your archived chat sessions. If used properly, adding 20 minutes to your visits will help increase knowledge and engagement.
- Schedule visits to the VC when assignments are due. Our graduates most frequently log in on the day assignments are due. This helps you hold yourself accountable for meeting deadlines which can eliminate late submissions. Remember, every point counts!
- Attend Live Chats and/or review Archived Chats each week. A distinct advantage you have as a CTU student is the ability to attend lectures live or in recorded sessions. Our graduates not only attend chats more frequently, but also are engaged in live chats over two times more than their peers. Having the ability to ask questions in real-time makes the experience feel real. When time doesn’t permit, you have the ability to review a recorded archive of the live chats.
- Consistency is Key! Pace yourself throughout the course, so you can be fully immersed and engaged for the full five-and-a-half week session. Keep in mind many courses will only become more difficult if your initial excitement winds down as the class ramps up. Think of this experience as a marathon, and not a sprint so you don’t tire yourself out in the first half of the class.
- Review faculty feedback and grades on assignments - regularly. Cultivate your ability to receive and act upon feedback you receive from your instructors and grades. Our graduates spend twice the amount of time reviewing instructor feedback as their peers. This allows you to integrate the feedback into your work for upcoming tasks.
- Use additional course resources. As a CTU student, you have access to a variety of resources to enrich your learning. Included on this list are eBooks, M.U.S.E. and the bookshelf which includes your textbooks from prior online courses. Students are able to download eBooks on a number of devices for reading on the go. Our M.U.S.E. technology is a great way to supplement the classroom materials by tailoring the content using visual, audible and hands-on examples.
- Use the Originality Verification (OV) tools before submitting assignments. Successful students submit to the OV tool with plenty of time left to revise if needed. This tool also helps to validate the originality of your work and ensures your APA references are properly cited.
- Identify and engage with other students in their classes. Research shows that belonging to a group provides meaning and creates a sense of belonging. Seek out peers and make a point to build relationships, network and lean on each other when you feel overwhelmed. Start by surrounding yourself with others who have similar goals. That way, you can motivate each other towards your achievements.
- Maintain continuous enrollment. There are times when a break sounds enticing – whether it’s due to a busy summer or an unexpected life occurrence. Quite simply, try not to let these obstacles get in the way of your course work. There will always be things occurring in life, but don’t let them prevent you from maintaining your momentum. Stick with your classes until you’ve met all degree requirements. Try creating motivational tactics for yourself - I’ve had a student tell me he was going to buy a new baseball hat for every passed class and another tell me she had a picture of her family taped to her computer – both served as motivators for them to persist. What motivates you to continue to strive towards your goals?
- Develop a personal successful approach and consistently follow it. Successful students know their strengths and weaknesses. Since I’m currently a student myself, I’ve found knowing this is a huge benefit. For example, when my children are awake I struggle with focusing, and I want to give them my attention. I’ve found early mornings and late evenings are the best time for me to study. I also know I work better when seeing a task list shrink. Knowing this I’ve logged a countdown to know exactly the percentage of classes I have left – even down to the number of assignments I have to yet to complete!
As an adjunct professor of general education at Colorado Technical University, Jon Bottari, M.Ed., helps prepare new students for academic and career success. He earned his Master of Education degree with a specialization in Leadership of Educational Organizations from American Intercontinental University and serves as CTU’s Director of Academic Evaluation. Follow him on Twitter at @jbott21.
Image Credit: Flickr/danisabella