Making Sure You Complete Your Online Courses
You may find the convenience, flexibility and time-efficiency of distance learning very attractive, but did you know that these same positive traits that are often used to describe online coursework can actually make completing your courses more challenging?
A recent New York Times article about campus colleges adapting to the increased demand for online education* pointed out that as far as those who have enrolled in increasingly popular MOOCs (massive open online courses), “very few complete the courses.” This may be a somber picture to paint as you embark on your online college program or online training, but it’s drawn not to discourage you, but to encourage you. With the right understanding of the distinct challenges you may face as an online college student, you can prepare and equip yourself to complete your program and reach your goals!
Tips to Stay on Task With Online Classes
Because online classes have enhanced flexibility, they demand a high level of individualized drive: self-motivation, self-direction, self-discipline, self-determination, self-reliance.
Set a Schedule that Helps You Develop a Routine
You may not have a set class schedule dictated for you by your instructors, as campus students do, but it is helpful to create your own set schedule for studying, completing your coursework, contributing on discussion boards, communicating with instructors, reviewing class material etc.
Fitting school into your busy work and family life may be exactly why you chose distance learning or an online degree program as opposed to a campus degree program, but stay aware that your other responsibilities can overshadow your coursework if you don’t make your online degree program a priority with a set schedule that you truly stick to.
You may save time that you would have used getting to and from campus, but you should put in the same amount of hours that a campus student does (10 hours a week minimum) in your coursework. Managing your time well and developing self-discipline with your routine are key to successfully completing your online schooling.
Set Goals & Set Yourself Apart
Setting goals that you strive to achieve – whether self-induced deadlines for assignments or for the level of engagement you show in online class discussions and chats – throughout your online program and committing yourself to produce the high quality of work many students who pay for traditional college courses feel the pressure to produce, will help you excel in your program.
It is also important to set yourself apart, both literally and figuratively. Show your commitment, what you have learned, and how you personally reflect on the material your instructors present by engaging with your instructors and classmates in discussions and via email. In addition to making important professional connections, collaborating with your classmates and standing out to your professors, keeping up with online interface will also ensure that are well informed on instructor announcements, new deadlines or feedback on your assignments and questions and the questions others have asked that pertain to you.
Setting yourself apart in literal terms when you study, carving a separate and sacred space for your studies and class time – whether its taking to your office or desk at a certain hour or spreading your books and papers out across the dining room table once you put the kids to bed – giving yourself space to work and keeping your materials and space organized will all help you stay focused on course completion and success.
* “Colleges Adapt Online Courses to Ease Burden” The New York Times, April 29, 2013