5 Skills You Need to Be a Successful Online Student
We talk a lot about making sure a student chooses the degree program that is the right fit from an academic, financial, style and brand perspective. But as a person, are you ready to succeed in an online learning environment? Before enrolling in a degree program you must make sure you have the skills for success. You don’t have to be born with these tools, but developing and maintaining them is critical for success:
- Time Management – This isn’t just about procrastination, which is a bad habit affecting students of all types. It’s about being able to comfortably set aside several times a week (if not daily) and create structure for ALL of the work. Prep, writing, reading, discussions, collaboration, etc. – it all takes a lot more time than you think. And that’s just for one class, when most people are taking more than one class at a time. The key word here is “management”, so even scheduling time on your calendar to have a meeting with a colleague called “school” is a must.
- Focus – According to media research firm Nielsen, American adults spend more than 11 hours per day interacting with online or social media. That means you will have a very hard time focusing on a 30-page reading assignment without stopping to check your Instagram feed several times. An hour set aside to study quickly grows to an hour and a half when you include checking the latest Kardashian updates. Focus takes practice. Instead of sitting down to read 30 pages, sit down to read 5 then take a break. Next time try for 7, then 10, etc. Better habits develop better habits.
- Collaboration – the best students in my programs were the ones that interacted regularly with instructors and other students. They used the required discussion threads as the source of most of their learning because they engaged more than the minimum. They also got help when they needed it because they actually asked for it! Online learning can be as solitary or as interactive as you want it to be, but the ones that are able to treat it like a collaborative classroom are less likely to fall behind.
- Proactivity – this goes along with time management but is specific enough to be uniquely important. Once you’re enrolled in a class, the very first thing that you should do is read the syllabus – it’s there for a reason! You should know what assignments will be due, when they’re due during the term and how they will count towards your grade. Take this information and apply it directly to the calendar in #1. If you know you’ve got a paper due in week 5, but you also know that’s the week you’re in your cousin’s wedding, there’s still no excuse! You can collaborate with your instructor (#3) to see if you can get some flexibility while keeping in mind you’ll get a lot better response by asking in week 2 instead of sending an email the day prior.
- Practicality – there’s an old saying I probably shouldn’t share here, so take the expression with a grain of salt – “Cs get Degrees”. Truthfully you should be able to get an A or B in most college undergrad courses, but you also live in the real world. Are you trying to keep up in Stats class while dealing with a teething baby, learning a new position at work and planning an anniversary party for your parents? Sometimes getting an A just isn’t in the cards. Managing, focusing when you can, getting help and not falling behind means you can at least get through the class successfully and on to the next.
Once you’ve chosen the right degree program, putting these skills into practice will make for a much more productive college experience.
You’ve got the skills, now are you ready to choose your program? See how ClearDegree is a must-have for anyone looking for an online degree.