How-to Conquer Your Next Online Course

Online college courses are on the rise and you can’t deny this. Why are so many of us turning to distance education?

In order to compete in an increasingly competitive job market during these challenging economic times, the need to learn and adapt has never been greater. One of the best ways to meet those needs can be found in the virtual classroom of an online university. But with time demands being greater than ever,  the prospect of “going back to school” can seem overwhelming.

Here are five tips to help you succeed when going after one of the best online college degrees:

Research the best online degree programs.

Although the thought of doing homework before taking a class seems counterintuitive, the fact remains that the only way to make sure an online class will suit your needs is through careful study and research. You wouldn’t take the time and effort to walk into a traditional classroom without first knowing if the course you’ll be taking is accredited, or if the subject matches your needs and expectations, or if the workload is more than your schedule will permit.

It’s important that you look into reliable online degree programs. Take the time to research so that you’re not stuck with not knowing what to do after college.

If you are pursuing a particular degree, make sure that the online courses you are considering will give you the credits you need. If certain classes you are interested in require prerequisite courses, then you will need to take that into consideration. You’ll also need to consider the cost-benefit ratio to make sure the online course you’ve selected will provide what you need at a price you can afford, thus preventing you from wasting, not only your hard earned money but your most valuable asset of time.

Don’t procrastinate once you get into one of the top online colleges.

Once you’ve determined your specific need for online education, the next step is to get started. The world is full of talented, well intentioned people who remain in less challenging and rewarding jobs, not because they don’t know what to do but simply because they fail to do it.

While consulting with others about taking an online class to develop or adopt new skills can be a positive part of the process, It’s not the whole process. You need to make a decision on how you want to invest your money, enrol in the college, and then focus on getting your work done.

Watch out for distractions.

Remember the days when your mom said, “No TV or video games until after your homework is done!” Well, it turns out she knew what she was talking about.  Although it’s ironic that your online learning experience wouldn’t be possible without today’s existing technologies, there are just too many engaging gadgets waiting to waste your time.

Although you may be very adept at texting and tweeting while simultaneously updating your Facebook page, when you are “in the classroom” or working on an assignment, do yourself a favor by turning off your cell phone, along with your e-mail program and any other electronic distractions that can compete for your time and keep you from being focused and productive. If you lack the self discipline to remove yourself from these distractions, then you may need to consider a different strategy, such as cancelling your cable or working from the local library.

Stick to your schedule.

Back in the day’s of your brick and mortar education you were forced to adhere to a schedule. If math was at 10:00 am on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, you showed up at the appointed place and time. The same holds true for your online class. If you are expected to be online at an appointed time you need to schedule that time into your life. In short, you need to show up. A hit or miss approach to online learning will only make the experience frustrating and ultimately unrewarding. If your current work schedule doesn’t allow you the flexibility you would like, you might want to consider weigh the options of taking a synchronous versus an asynchronous learning online class.

Finish your assignments on time.

With the convenience of learning online from your home comes the tendency to not take assignments and due dates seriously. An essential part of any learning process is to set realistic goals and make the time to achieve those goals on time. If the subject is particularly challenging, you need to take that into account by allowing more time to complete the assignments. Be aware that, while some courses have a weekly test requirement, others may require that a test be taken after each learning session. Still others factor in an online time requirement that can be as important as doing well on the tests. Keeping up with assignments and deadlines is critical, as falling behind can keep you from completing the course and receiving the credit you deserve for all the time you have invested.

When you get into one of the best online colleges, you can then try to find out what the best online jobs for college students are.

This was a guest post from Chase Jenkins, is a freelance writer for MyCollegesandCareers.com. 

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