For Judilyn Mathis, making sure she stayed on track with her online coursework at New England College was a matter of being organized.
“I write everything in a planner. Each week I would make a list of the things that were due and when they were due and I would just work down that list. Cross them off as they were completed and, before I knew it, the list was completed for the week. Very simple,” she said.
Mathis completed her bachelor’s degree in Healthcare Administration in 2016 while managing a full-time job and her personal life. She even worked ahead so she could go on her honeymoon.
Earning a degree online can be a daunting prospect, but it is doable.
Devise a game plan.
A study plan may help you stay on track to meet your learning goals and objectives. The plan should cover the following:
- Finding an ideal place to study – in your local coffee shop or a corner of your bedroom – that’s consistent, distraction-free and conducive to your study routine.
- Turning off your phone and resisting the temptation to waste time online.
- Strategies to manage your time by crafting to-do lists or marking down assignment due dates on a calendar.
Get familiar with your program.
The more familiar you are with the lesson structures of your degree program, the faster you will be able to jump in and complete the course. At the same time, knowing what to expect helps you structure your game plan. You’ll be motivated to get going and know how much time you’ll need to get there.
Make sure your tech “house” is in order.
Tech tools for your coursework as an online student are essential, but you have to be able to access them. Find out if your computer is compatible and has reliable Internet access. Make sure you know how to use any software system related to your classes. Save and backup your work often.
Get to know your teachers and classmates.
Contact your instructors early and often to establish a relationship that will help you stay on track with your studies. Also, connect with your virtual classmates to avoid feeling isolated. Everyone benefits from more active participation in group discussions and activities, whether you’re discussing classwork or exchanging study tips.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
You may not be the only one having trouble, so when you ask your instructor a question, you may also be helping your classmates. If you don’t ask, who’s going to know anything’s amiss?
If you go into your degree program with realistic expectations and the right preparation, you can make it work for you.