Are you considering earning your graduate degree online? Learning in an online environment is different than learning in a traditional one. Prior to starting your first online course, it’s important to consider the differences and how you can get the most out your online experience. Here are some tips for taking online classes to help:
Choose the right program.
Online degrees and certificates can vary as much as traditional brick and mortar schools. Choosing a program that fits your lifestyle and your personal and professional goals is the first step in having a rewarding online experience. Consider whether you need an accredited degree program, a certificate or a single class, or any additional requirements. Assess your technological needs – such as mobile, support access, learning management systems – and your equipment. Understand the workload requirement and how you could manage it.
Connect with your peers and make friends.
When wondering how to take an online class, one must remember that an online course allows for many opportunities to get to know and work with your classmates. Connecting with your peers helps to keep you from feeling disconnected from your studies and can keep you motivated. Actively use the discussion boards and group activities – and opt for a video post instead of a written post when available. The benefit of online courses is that you can participate at any time of day, not just during restricted class time. If there are chat or video sessions, the best option is to join and be part of the discussion. Join the conversation on social media for your program or school.
Reach out to your professors and your support resources.
Faculty in online courses are as interested in collaborating and helping students as much as the on campus programs. Introduce yourself to the faculty member prior to or at the beginning of your course. If you have questions, , don’t be afraid to connect with them. You will also have access to a variety of support services depending on the program or class, including technology, student counseling or advising or financial aid offices. Don’t hesitate to use them.
Keep up the hard work.
One of the best ways to get most out of your education is to stay enthusiastic and engaged. Like any degree program, whether on campus or online, there’s going to be highs and lows throughout your studies – and this happens to every student. Time strategy and organization techniques can help keep manage the work load and keep you at a steady, but not overwhelming pace. When you’re feeling stressed, remember the positive reasons why you’ve endeavored to get your degree. Reach out for any support you need, including friends, family and any services offered by your school.
Use what you learn.
The most rewarding educational opportunity is to use what you’ve learned in a real environment or in discussion with your peers. Take what you’ve learned and apply it, if you can. Come back to the classroom and discuss what worked, what didn’t and how to improve in the future. Stay in contact with willing peers and professors to keep the discussion going, even after class has ended. As with any class, if you don’t use what you learn, you’ll forget it.