I’ve known several people over the years who felt that online classes would be a piece of cake: just do the assignments when it was convenient, and things would be fine. Needless to say, they became some of the online dropouts. Following are some of the attributes generally associated with successful online students.
What it takes to be a successful online student
1. Motivation- Certainly one of the biggest requirements. Just like attending college at a campus, no one is going to stand over you with a ruler and remind you it is time to do your schoolwork. A successful online student knows what has to be done and does it.
2. Stay on track – You know yourself better than anyone else. Do you stay on track with studies and reports? Create a time line and adhere to it as much as possible. Emergencies happen. Fun should not interfere.
3. Similar classes – many classes have similar themes and requirements. Try to group a few together for the semester, such as American literature and American history. Things that you will learn and read will correlate with each other, saving yourself time and enabling you to build on the concepts.
4. Understanding the parameters – Find out if classes you take elsewhere will count towards your degree or certificate. Ask about the length of the program. Be certain that the classes you take this year will still be valid in the next one. Request an exact list of all requirements to complete the program.
5.. Interest in the subject – If there are classes that you have no interest in, and feel like you are never going to complete, sign up for an evening class at the local community or state college, if available and permitted. Don’t lose your progress and money because of a looming, dull-to-you, course.
6. Interest in the subject part 2 – If there are classes that you can’t get enough of, be wary of signing up for too many of the same kind. There is generally a limit on how many of the same kind can count towards a degree. Pursue the courses catalog, if there is one, and see if there are other required classes that feed the need for your learning passion.
7. Keep an open mind – You are going to hear, see, and read many things you disagree with, or that are distasteful to you. It is a life lesson. Verify what it is you are to learn. If you disagree with the lesson on principal, be prepared to back it up with facts. Otherwise, recognize it as another point of view in a varied world.
8. Utilize other sources – Make a list of sources to go to when you have questions. Ask people if they will be accessible if you have a question that you know they can answer, with a reply you will listed to and understand.
9. Ask about challenging classes – If there are required courses that you feel proficient in, ask if you can challenge the course. There might be a fee, but you will either get credit for the class, or have the option of enrolling in the next level, providing you with better and new learning opportunities.
10. Immediate goals – Make a written report of your immediate goals, what is needed to achieve them, and your plan to complete them. Update them when you complete a course, or do especially well on an assignment or extra-curricular activity. Whenever you feel yourself slipping, pull out the report and read it. Make a note if things have changed, and if perhaps your plan is affected. Otherwise, it will generally remind you of what you want, how much has been completed towards the degree or certificate, and why it is important to stay focused.
Find a cheering section to celebrate your successes, and cheer you when you need additional uplifting. Good luck on your decision to participate in education online.
The above is based on my own experience in directing people towards options in learning.