Online degree programs are growing in popularity by leaps and bounds. In fact, by 2008 it is estimated that one in ten college students will be enrolled at least part-time in online coursework. It sounds great; flexibility, lower costs and the chance to attend class in the comfort of your own home. However, it takes a special kind of student to really make an online education work.
People sign up for online degree programs for a variety of reasons. They may already have a job, they may have a disability or a transportation problem, or they may simply want to save some money. Online colleges are less expensive than their bricks and mortar counterparts. One thing most people have in common is that they understand the allure of working on your schoolwork at your own pace in your own environment. There is, however, a down side to the self-paced style of online degree programs. Although they are more flexible, most have time limits on specific projects and on the amount of time allowed to finish your required courses. Being successful in an online college program requires self-discipline and determination.
There are several things you should do when you enroll in an online degree program to make sure you don't fall behind or lose track of your progress. Most of them are relatively easy to implement, but a surprising number of students don't think about them until they've run into trouble with their classes.
When you receive your course assignments and class schedules, mark down everything on your calendar. This includes scheduled times to log into class sessions, due dates for assignments and when you will be taking online exams. Post a copy of your calendar next to your desk so that you can glance at it any time you want without having to boot up your computer. This will get you in the habit of glancing at it before you go out, etc. to refresh your memory of important dates.
Have a clearly designated area in which to work. It is best if you have a desk to work from. If you don't, carve out some space somewhere for your computer, your study materials and other supplies. Use this area only for studying so that you see it as your classroom and aren't tempted to waste away valuable time on activities that will distract you. Habitually studying in the same area will get you in the proper mindset for your work.
Set aside specific times and dates for studying and writing papers. Ideally, you should set aside several hours each week that are specifically for your homework. Make the time a priority and mark it on your calendar in ink so that you can't change it. And don't reschedule your time unless a true emergency has come up.
Save everything. Back up your computer. Print out if you feel it's a good idea. Online instructors aren't happy accepting excuses like a hard drive has crashed when assignments are due. Back up all of your work, and make hard copies as well. In fact, hard copies of your papers are a great way to proof read your work as things look different on paper, and you may catch some mistakes you'd otherwise miss.
Allow quiet time for your schoolwork. Let your friends and family know that you don't want visitors and won't take phone calls during not only scheduled online class times, but during your study hours. Time can slip away and leave you with unfinished work if you chat during your homework time.
If you use these simple study aids, you'll be successful in your classes and soon be the proud recipient of a degree from your online degree program. Good luck!