One of the major differences between attending classes at a traditional on-campus college and an online university is the level of responsibility and initiative that is required of online students. Although a high level of responsibility is expected from traditional college students – they need to make sure that they attend classes, study their class work, complete their homework and attain an impressive GPA to be viewed as competitive as they approach the workforce – online classes do not provide students with definitive schedules, leaving attendees to depend on self-motivation, organization skills and the desire to succeed.
While there are plenty of students who already have the organizational skills, multi-tasking abilities and self-motivation that is required to keep the demands of online classes flowing smoothly, others may need some ideas to get on the right track. Here are some tips to help online students keep up with their assignments:
Develop a daily and weekly schedule – Students who attend courses on campus are provided a weekly schedule that dictates where the classes are held and when students need to physically be in the classroom. Online classes do not have a specific schedule, in general; they can be taken anytime of the day or week, and virtually, from anywhere. While the flexibility of the open schedule plan that college courses offer is the main reason many students elect to pursue their degree online, students should still develop a daily and weekly schedule to ensure that they complete their college courses in a timely manner.
Whether it’s a laptop with a nifty desktop calendar program, a smartphone daily planner app or the old-fashioned calendar posted in a clearly visible place on a wall, you will want to decide which type of organizer works best for you. Then, you should document the must-do list first, which would include a work schedule, doctor’s appointments and, if you have children, be sure to add the activities that you need to be involved in and commit time to.
You will also want to take into consideration mealtimes – and parents will want to think about blocking out bedtimes on their schedules. From there, a commitment to devote time to the college class work can be scheduled in, keeping in mind that each class will need time dedicated to it. You are also going to want to consider other daily or weekly tasks that require time, like chores, paying bills, grocery shopping and other errands, and leave time slots to squeeze in those activities, too.
Remember: the more time you are able to commit to courses on a daily, weekly and monthly basis, the faster you will make it to the finish line, with a degree in hand.
Don’t Get Lost Online – It’s too easy to stop studying for a moment and hop onto Facebook or Twitter and get lost in the crowd. It’s even easier to read a great article about something that you’re passionate about that leads to another article about a fascinating topic and head in a direction far away from your coursework. When your personalized schedule that you created has a time-slot set aside for your college classes, be sure not to confuse class time with computer time.
The Internet can absorb an excess amount of time – email, in itself, can be a huge time-drain – before you know it, you’ve spent hours participating in non-productive activities and still have school work to do, kids who are hungry, and laundry piling up to the ceiling. So, it will be important to differentiate class work from computer play and separate the time slots on your schedule.
Take a true look at your computer usage and evaluate if you could maximize the time that you spend on the computer any better. If you have two or more different email accounts, one personal and one for school, consider merging them together. If you have a tendency to get lost in social media networking sites, games, email or community forums, limit your time spent in those places and allocate a daily allotted time slot for those activities.
Avoid “Cramming” and Study the Right Way – All college students could benefit from this little piece of advice. Procrastination is a part of human nature, especially in a world as fast-paced as today’s world; procrastinating college work is easier than sitting down and putting your mind to it. It’s better to study for shorter periods of time daily to help implant the information into your long term memory, so you should plan to study for 15-30 minutes for each class daily.
“Studying” is a loose term; some people think that simply means sit down and read information, while others spend hours and hours to re-write, analyze and review the information that they have read. While a small amount of people in this world can commit information to memory simply by reading it once, the majority of students do not fit into this category. Most students are visual, auditory or hands-on learners, so turning the course material on the computer screen into visual concepts will help to remember the information better.
Taking notes is the bare minimum that students should do to improve how they remember class material. It is much easier to refer back to well-taken notes than the entire book when it’s time for quizzes and tests. Students who have an auditory learning style might want to consider using a voice recorder to document the important information in each chapter and then play it back during study time. Visual and hands-on learners may want to create graphs, charts or bullet-pointed lists in their notes to make their studying more conducive to their learning style.
Also, don’t forget to find a comfortable environment that you can study in, and if you retain information better with music on, by all means, turn on some tunes. A well-planned schedule, good study habits and reduction of time-absorbing, but non-productive tasks, will give you a great start on your way to your online college degree. Good luck!