Roger Maris, a famous baseball player, once said, “You win not by chance, but by preparation.” The same is true for college; planning for success is a huge step in reaching your goals, and being successful in college. As an online instructor I am often asked, “How do I prepare for online classes?” Online students don’t need to go brave the crowds for a new outfit to wear on the first day, yet, there are a few things online students should do to prepare for the start of class!
Creating long-term and short-term goals is essential for success. Linking your long-term goal of graduating and advancing your career with your short-term goals of being successful in each class will give you the opportunity to celebrate your accomplishments on a regular basis. Establishing study times is another way to prepare for online classes. Many students are working full time, have families, and other personal responsibilities, so establishing a weekly schedule with consistent blocks of time each week for working on your online assignments is one strategy for success.
Having an effective study area is another step in your online success program. This environment should be a quiet place where you can concentrate, as well as where you have access to the Internet. In your study environment you want to eliminate any online distractions, do not be logged into any chat or social media tools while working on your coursework. Concentrate on one assignment at a time. Jumping back and forth between assignments will decrease your ability to comprehend the material and successfully complete your assignment.
Familiarizing yourself with the course design is another strategy for online success. You will have access to your course syllabus and a tracking calendar. Take note of your instructor’s email address, when are assignments due, how your assignments needs to be submitted, course policies (late policies and attendance), what textbooks are required, and where to get technical support. Once you are familiar with your course you will be able to set that worry aside and be prepared to start your class and be successful. Familiarize yourself with your support services. You have access to an online library with a librarian available 24 hours a day, as well as tutoring. Understanding where you can find these support services will help relieve any stress you may feel when you come across a point where you need support.
Having a technology contingency plan is another strategy for online success. We have no control over what may happen that may stand in our way when we are trying to achieve our goals. Unfortunately computers and Internet access will inevitably fail, and always when we can least afford it. Having a plan for this is essential. Identify alternative access to computers, whether this is a local library, or a friend or family member’s computer. Have your instructor’s contact information as well as the technology support services written down. Ensure you have a plan for backing up your work. Too often things can go wrong, computers can crash, work is not saved, and having a backup plan for your work will help to eliminate this type of distraction.
Taking college classes online gives you a great opportunity to reach your goals. Your journey to success in college will be filled with many challenges; however, creating a plan for success and being prepared for any situation will help you overcome these challenges, and help you reach your ultimate goal!
Brooke Urban is an adjunct instructor at Bryant & Stratton College Online. Currently completing her PhD online, Brooke also works in the online admissions department. Prior to Bryant & Stratton College she has worked in the business world for 8 years as a manager and corporate trainer.