Online classes can be a great way to earn a degree. It is, however, not always easy to make a success of them. A lot of people give online classes a try and then give up. If you are in that situation right now – where you are taking an online class and thinking about giving up – or maybe just getting started in an online class – here are a few tips to help you make a success of your online education experience.
First, be prepared for gaps in communication with your professors and your classmates. If you are a new student, just returning after a break, or if you are accustomed to traditional classes where you sit in a classroom and listen to lectures – the transition to sitting alone at a computer can be tricky. Traditional schooling offers students an instructor to turn to immediately with questions. You don’t always have that in online classes. Communicating through email and message board postings can be a slow process. (My personal experience has been that if I email the professor in an online class (with a question) I find the answer on the Internet long before I get and answer from the professor.)
Second, set aside a little bit more time than recommended by the school. If the school tells you to plan on a class taking eight hours a week, allow yourself ten. Mark it off in your schedule. If you do not end up needing the extra time for the class then you have the choice of working ahead or doing whatever you want with the time. Having the extra time available to work on a difficult project can make the difference between a good grade and a poor one. It can even be a deciding factor between finishing the class and dropping out.
Third, carefully look at the grading matrix provided by the school as well as any step-by-step directions that are provided for each assignment. Knowing what the professor will be looking for in your papers tells you what to put in them. Focus first on the parts that of a paper or project that get the highest points. Do not forget the other parts if you are going for good grades, just get the most valuable part done first. Think of it as a foundation and build your paper on it. (For example, if half of the points for a paper come from having four reliable, properly cited sources find them and put them in your paper first.)
Fourth, and last, take the time to proof-read your papers before submitting them. If you have someone who is willing to proof-read them for you – ask them to do it. It is better for you to catch the mistakes before the professor does. One good way to check for mistakes is to start at the end of the paper and read one sentence at a time – out loud. If you read your paper from the beginning – for many people – you know what you meant to write and what you meant to write is what you will see. Starting at the end and reading one sentence at a time makes it easier to spot mistakes. Reading aloud also helps you catch mistakes. Sometimes when you hear a grammar mistake spoken out loud it stands out more than when you are reading – especially when it is your own written work.
Taking online classes can be a wonderful opportunity to get a degree. The need for education in this economy keeps increasing. Life is busy. Gas is expensive to drive to classes. If you can make your educational experience fit your life – and you can with online classes – then it is to your benefit to do it. Hopefully these tips will help.