Congratulations! You’ve made the important decision to further your education, and you’ve made the switch from on-campus classes to earning a degree online.
For many people, the move to an online degree program provides several significant benefits, including greater scheduling flexibility, reduced transportation costs and improved school-work-life balance. However, this transition may take some adjustment to an online environment. Here’s how to make the best of the change.
Take Control of Your Schedule
When you pursue your education on campus, your calendar is very rigid. The syllabus prescribes exactly when you need to be in class and when you can visit the instructor’s office. Add in the time it takes to commute to and from school, as well as waiting on campus between classes and appointments, and you might find yourself stuck in a routine that doesn’t line up well with your work requirements and home life.
Online education has none of these limitations. While the deadlines may be fixed, you are free to take courses when it suits your schedule from anywhere. Communicating with instructors is usually conducted via email or discussion boards. As you’re now in charge of your calendar, you need to know how to manage your time to ensure you complete your assignments.
Take the Discussion Online
In an on-campus environment, discussion occurs in a classroom. The instructor might raise a topic that generates questions, and students can respond to others’ comments at that time.
In an online degree program, the conversation moves to discussion boards. All students may participate in online discussions at some point or other – some instructors may require it. Participation will help you understand the topics being taught by asking questions and responding to posts from classmates and the instructor at any time, according to U.S. News and World Report.
Take Advantage of Technology
Technology is the cornerstone of online education. Without the internet, schools couldn’t offer courses and degrees online, which could potentially limit the opportunity for people to access a college education. To make the most of earning a degree online, don’t ignore the usefulness of technology tools, especially when it comes to collaborating on group projects.
- Meet virtually with other students through video conferencing services, such as Skype or Zoom.
- Prepare reports, spreadsheets and presentations with a web-based editor, such as Google’s office suite (Google Docs, Google Sheets, etc.), and download mobile versions so you can review and revise on the fly.
- Share documents that you find helpful through your course’s learning management system.
- Consider a web-based file-storage service, such as Dropbox, Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive, so that you can save and access your files from any computer.