I come from a long line of pioneers who ventured across the USA to settle the wild Wild West. I’ve been fortunate to be able to read journal entries from some of those ancestors who describe a number of their adventures (including one ancestor who walked across the plains with one shoe because her kids accidentally threw the other one overboard on the ship from England). One thing I found particularly fascinating was that many of these ancestors traveled in wagon trains and at night they would circle the wagons around the camp to protect the members of the company from predators and attacks from other less-savory travelers. You may feel a bit like a pioneer yourself, venturing into unknown territory by taking an online program, and it may feel a bit overwhelming at times. Luckily, we’ve “circled the wagons” around you in the form of a wealth of resources available to help you succeed; however, some learners are unaware of those resources and their journey seems awfully lonely. Let’s discuss the various resources available to help you!
The first resource I’d like to discuss is Career Step’s Student Support department. While you’re not attending class in a traditional sense, we still have instructors available Monday through Friday from 9 am to 7 pm Eastern to answer your questions, teach concepts, and provide encouragement. They are available by phone, email, and the Ask an Instructor chat. They are all extremely knowledgeable about their areas of study and have credentials under their belts if their fields require them. They’re passionate about their fields of study and all solid teaching methods. Don’t be afraid to contact them if you’re having trouble with something in the course. They are happy to assist in any way they can. You can find their contact information in the Support Services tab of your course sidebar.
We sometimes hear from students who are feeling a bit lonely as they go through their program. It’s a common issue with independent study programs due to the loss of interaction with other students. Career Step has attempted to counter this issue with a robust online community site for current students and graduates from all of our programs. Many students have met lifelong friends in our community, received helpful feedback from graduates, and shared discouragements and triumphs together. The community helps to keep those classroom interactions in a relaxed and inviting forum and chat room environment. If you’re interested in learning more about this resource, check out this blog or this one to learn more.
One of the greatest things about online learning is that the Internet is at your disposal with the click of a mouse button. Many of our programs teach research methods to help our students make the most of this incredible resource. For example, let’s say you’re a very visual learner and you need to see a video about something you just read in your program. You can simply pop over to YouTube and do a quick search to find some helpful videos to further concrete those concepts in your mind.
I know—often the first thing we think of when we think of tech support is a bunch of unfriendly guys in the basement of a building that smells vaguely of tube socks and blue cheese. Career Step’s Technical Support team couldn’t be further from that. They are a helpful, friendly group of technology enthusiasts who are approachable, dedicated, and knowledgeable. If you’re having technical problems with your course, they’re the ones to call. They can troubleshoot issues and will work with you until the issue is resolved. You can reach them Monday through Friday from 10 am to 7 pm Eastern time.
This helpful little tool is found on the home page any time you log in to the program website. You can use this tool in conjunction with a handy planner of your choice to set up a study schedule—one of the most important methods for success in an online learning environment. The study planner allows you to either set it up based on the number of hours per week you want to work in the program or by a completion goal date. I suggest using the goal date over the # of hours per week if you want to finish by a specific date. It will then generate a projection detailing when you should have each module finished in order to meet that goal. It will also detail the number of pages you need to move through each day to meet that goal. The study planner is based on 7 days per week, so just keep that in mind.
No matter which program you’re enrolled in, there’s a dedicated blog site for you. The blogs are full of helpful information, interesting reads, and tons of quick tips to help you make the most of your course. From learning about how to manage expectations when dealing with others to tips for exercising at work to brief history lessons, there’s sure to be something interesting for you to read. The blogs are kept up to date on a weekly basis so there’s always something new to read.
With all these resources available, we hope that when you start to feel alone you’ll remember that help is all around you. Onward and upward!