A lot of people can benefit from the flexibility of earning a degree online: stay at home parents, students who relocate often, people with full-time jobs looking to advance their careers, and active military members, just to name a few. There’s no doubt that learning online is advantageous. That being said, it requires a different kind of preparation than attending school on-campus. Both are new environments for learning, but they’re very different. So, before you get started, here are five things you’ll be happy you learned before you started.
It’s not the easy way out.
Some people take online classes because they think they will somehow be easier or less time-consuming than attending school on-campus. Here’s a tip: if you don’t have the time to dedicate to on-campus school, you probably don’t have the time for online college, either. Although they offer flexibility in that you can choose when you’d like to watch your lectures or participate in discussion, they still require several hours per week per class.
There’s a learning curve with the technology.
Just like you need to learn to navigate the hallways and buildings of a campus, you also need to learn to navigate the online landscape. If you don’t know what you should be checking daily – your discussions, your e-mail, your grades, your shared files – then it’s really easy to miss something important. Take a few days to poke around the platform and to ask your professors or advisor any questions you may have. You’ll be glad you did.
You still need to schedule your time.
You might not be able to attend class every Tuesday and Thursday at 2 p.m. That’s okay – but you still need to block out long periods of time to do your schoolwork. A lot of it does require an extended period of sitting down. For example, most online exams must be completed within a certain timeframe of starting it, so you can’t begin and then come back later. Make sure that you know which days of the week, and which hours, you’ll leave free for school.
Engagement is still really important.
Have you ever been in a classroom where the teacher embarrasses you for not raising your hand often enough? How about when they call on you, and you weren’t paying attention? Just because you’re taking classes online doesn’t mean you’re escaping having eyes on you. Online professors are really good at keeping track of who is being engaging in the discussions, and will often ask you questions directly. Stay engaged if you want to earn good grades.
You can go to graduation!
Most schools treat online students and on-campus students exactly the same. So, if you’ve always wanted to toss your cap, feel free to attend. That being said, you’re officially a degree-holder on the date of course completion – you don’t have to wait until after the graduation date to say you have a degree.