Whether you’ve recently graduated from high school or are coming back to school for the first time since Jimmy Carter was president (history lesson: that was the late 70s), it can be daunting to take an online course! In order to take some of the mystery out of the experience and provide accurate expectations, we thought it would be fun to give some tips from an online instructor.
Know your style of learning
The very first tip I have for you when considering an online program is to determine what learning style is best for you.To be perfectly honest, some learners simply do not do well in online, self-directed environments—and that’s okay. That’s why traditional brick-and-mortar schools still exist. Think about what types of teachers or professors and classes worked best for you. Online education requires a high degree of personal motivation and self-starting behavior. If those are not your strong suits, online education may not be the best fit for you.
I’ve taken a number of online courses now, some through Career Step and some while I was in university. I did not do well with some classes online (college-level statistics, for example) due to the nature of the type of information I was learning. For other topics, online learning was great.
Own your success
Students who are most successful in online programs are ones who take responsibility for their own learning and success. Online programs are often largely independent study and often do not have a ton of interaction between you and the instructor. Don’t let that deter you.
If you aren’t understanding a concept, don’t hesitate to immediately contact your instructor for assistance. We will reach out to you from time to time during your course, but we rely on students to let us know if they’re having difficulty with something. Mindreading, sadly, is not one of our strong suits. Let us know if you’re having trouble with something. Take responsibility for your learning and you’ll be much more successful.
Use all the resources available
Career Step has a number of resources available to help you succeed. These resources include knowledgeable instructors who can help you understand concepts you’re having difficulty with, a vast online community where you can connect with other students and graduates from your program, and an excellent technical support team to help you if you have technical trouble with your course. Don’t be afraid to take advantage of all of the resources available and if you don’t know what the resources are, don’t be afraid to ask about them.
Schedule, schedule, schedule
While our programs do not have strict schedules, that doesn’t mean that you don’t need to plan your study periods. A common trap that students fall into is that they plan to study in their spare time. Who actually has spare time? I like to call that “rare time” because it is very elusive. We can always find things to take up our time if we want. It’s a good idea to set up your study schedule at the beginning of each week and communicate that schedule to your family and friends. That way, they’ll know what you’re doing and will be less apt to interrupt you in the middle of your study session except for emergencies. We provide a handy Study Planner tool with your program to help you plan your progress. I strongly encourage you to use it often.
Know the technical requirements
My last tip is to research the technical requirements before starting. If your computer doesn’t meet the technology requirements to take an online program, it can be a frustrating and expensive problem to fix. Career Step provides all technical requirements on our homepage and we encourage prospective students to read all the FAQs so they can make informed decisions.
I hope these tips help. Do you have any tips for succeeding in an online course? Share them in the comments below!