Starting college online can be a challenging yet enriching experience. Prior to starting online studies, you must be mentally prepared to sacrifice some leisure time and dedicate extra hours for reading and assignments. It is a challenge to juggle work and family demands and attend to studies at the same time. However, if you work towards your goal and stay focused on the end-product, the whole learning experience can be rewarding and worth your while. One advantage of online college is that you can study around your schedule within the comforts of your home.
Tips to start college online successfully:
Reliable Internet Access
Having a computer and reliable internet connection are critical to your success. A fast and reliable internet connection will curb any frustrations you may face when accessing the Virtual Campus or participating in discussion boards.
Navigate online study tools
To start college online successfully, you have to know how to navigate the Virtual Campus. This can help you gain more confidence in undertaking your course as you begin to feel in control of what you are doing. Before you start your course, you should find out how to:
- Submit your assignments on the Virtual Campus
- Access discussion forums
- Contact your course instructors
- Access library facilities
- Access course modules
Conducive Study Environment
It is important to have a study area that is well-lit, adequately spacious and comfortable. Your study area should provide you with enough space to spread out your books and papers for reading or preparing for your assignments. Another important feature of a conducive study environment is a quiet area where you can concentrate. This means allocating study space away from the living room and kitchen to prevent distraction from noise and a flurry of family activities.
Online learning can pose a big challenge as motivation and discipline are expected to come from within. To be self-driven, you have to set your own goals and commit to your chosen degree. One way to motivate yourself is to set daily affirmations as a reminder to focus on your daily tasks and work towards your end goal.
Recommended Daily Habits
Prior to starting your modules, you should adopt the habit of writing your daily tasks in a visible place which can be your planner, refrigerator or smartphone. Aim to accomplish your tasks by the end of each day and review those that require more time. Your daily tasks should include assignment preparation and weekly readings. Plan a regular study time and dedicate at least two hours each day to keep up on assignments and participate in discussion boards.
Sound Organization Skills
- Planning: Keeping a mental note of your assignment deadlines is crucial for preparation. It is a good idea to spread out your reading, note taking and assignment drafting so you have sufficient time to attend to each assignment and avoid unnecessary stress. Start working on an assignment way before the due date so that you can have sufficient time to polish it up instead of having to rush through it and produce mediocre work.
- Filing: Set aside physical and online folders to file your readings and notes. This way, you can easily and quickly retrieve them online or offline.
- Time Management: Determine which part of the day you tend to concentrate best in your studies. Understand what works best for your lifestyle, personality and habit in order to be more productive. Do you work best at night or in the morning? Do you concentrate better after a meal or before? Allocate a stretch of time for studies each day and take short breaks in between to prevent mental fatigue and eye strain.
Establish Contact with Classmates
Studying online is an opportunity for you to work according to your own pace, at your own time away from campus. Although you tend to feel isolated from people and are far away from physical learning resources, the internet has made it possible for you to virtually connect with your classmates. You can ask questions in learning forums or contact your classmates via email. Gaining moral support from your classmates can boost your confidence as you work together to strive a common goal.
In order to start college online successfully, you have to be self-disciplined, proactive and take responsibility for your education. Give yourself ample time to mentally and physically prepare yourself for online studies to avoid being overwhelmed by information overload. Focus on your goal and enjoy the learning experience and the fruits of your labor at the end of the course. The intrinsic reward achieved can be worth your time and effort.