Online Student? How to Prepare for the New College Year

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Online Student? How to Prepare for the New College Year

It’s that time of year again. Thousands of college students are packing up their belongings with an undeniable sense of excitement, parents are nervously waving their children off on their first real grown-up adventure, and the owners of truck rental companies are rubbing their hands with glee. It’s a familiar right of passage that takes place every fall. But, what if you’re one of the more than six million students learning online?

Things are going to be looking a little different for online students. For a start, there won’t be a moving truck heaving under the strain of a life packed up on the driveway. You may be a mature student; in which case, you’ll have managed to avoid the tearful parents. In general terms, your life as an online college student is going to be more flexible that if you were attending college in person. The flip side is that discipline and proper planning become more important.  It’s not a case of logging on to your college portal on day one and expecting everything to run smoothly. You have to make sure you have all the correct course materials and know your schedule in advance – even if it is predominantly virtual. Follow these top tips for starting online college and you should be all set for a successful semester.

1. Plan Ahead
You will likely be receiving your course details via E-mail a couple of weeks before the start of the semester. Take some time to familiarize yourself with what is coming, paying particular attention to assignments and due dates. It’s a great idea to invest in a wall calendar to mark these out in advance. This is even more important if you have work and family commitments to factor in. Make sure you set aside enough time to fulfill all of your obligations. It makes for a much less stressful life in the long run. If there are older children, this could be a perfect time to introduce them to some extra responsibilities. By sharing the workload with others in your household, you could gain some extra study time.

2. Satisfy Tech Requirements
Online study is delivered using a tech platform. Whether that’s a specific browser used by your college learning management environment or updated Flash software to enable course videos to be displayed on your computer. The course information you receive should list all of these tech requirements, in addition to providing specific details as to how to login and access your course. Run through these requirements and check your tech is up to scratch before you start online college to avoid any unwelcome delays at a later stage. This way, if you do run into problems, you’ll have plenty of time to get help from your college IT team.

3. Know your Resources
As an online student you will have a world of information at your fingertips courtesy of the internet. There are also some specific resources that you will need to leverage if you want to keep pace with your E-learning course. University library materials and tech support is likely to be readily available to online students, but you may also wish to seek out additional support specific to your needs. Many students would benefit from better time management skills. Still others could use some pointers on their writing style. Many colleges offer online writing labs (OWLs) to their students. If your college doesn’t have an OWL resource, you can benefit from those provided free of charge by Purdue and Colorado State University.

Following these top tips for online students will make life easier and stand you in good stead for successfully completing your first semester at an online college.

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