You’re ready to begin your online education. You’ve chosen a program, talked to the admissions department, provided transcripts and registered for classes. While your online education experience is different from an on-campus experience, you will be immersed in the same instruction. To be prepared, you should follow these tips to make this next career step a success.
Preparation is Key for Online Classes
- Study skills are still important – You know that an online education is convenient and will be perfect for you as you continue your education while working. However, your courses will still cover the same material as a traditional, on-campus class. You’ll benefit from the convenience of online bachelor’s and graduate programs, but you will be expected to complete the same amount of work. Time management will be your most important skill as you complete your online degree. For instance, if you work in shifts, you will have to adjust your study and homework time accordingly. Make sure that you schedule enough time each day to complete your work and study for tests.
- Know what kind of technical equipment is needed – Get the list of required equipment and buy or install those items at least a few weeks before you start your courses. Some people only need a desktop, printer and wireless connection, while others travel frequently and would require a laptop. Some online programs will ask you to download several software programs or plug-ins, and many will require you to view videos. If your current computer can’t handle those programs, consider increasing your hard drive space or purchasing a new computer.
Be sure that you have the right operating system for Windows or Mac and know what browser to use, since some programs are developed to work optimally in certain browsers. Every college has a Help Desk, so keep their number nearby and know if they are there 24 hours a day or if they keep certain hours. Also, prepare for contingency plans just as you would if you were attending on-campus classes. That means having a backup if your wireless connection is interrupted or if your computer doesn’t turn on. Buy an external hard drive and back up your files so that you have a copy of everything you’ve done.
- Understand the requirements for each class – Perhaps your professor will require you to log in every 24 hours, or you may have to respond to online classroom discussion every few days. Understand what the syllabus requires and contact your professor if you have any questions. Some instructors prefer to communicate through email, while others want to be contacted using the software that delivers the coursework. If you are required to work in groups, know how you will collaborate and what you will have to do to receive full credit.
- Create a portfolio of your work – Throughout your degree process, save and organize all of your course work. Write an overview of each course, what you learned in each course, and how that relates to real-world employment. When you are interviewing for a position, bring your course summaries and a collection of your completed coursework. This can include white papers, an internship overview, group projects and the proof of regional accreditation for your program. Most human resources departments have worked with schools that provide online programs, but if you are interviewing at a smaller firm or your potential employer isn’t familiar with the benefits of an online degree, you may have to explain your accomplishments using a portfolio.
Lindenwood Online offers 10 online degree programs for both undergraduate and graduate students. Our online programs are continuously accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, and we provide admissions, financial aid and registration assistance for all students. Call or contact Lindenwood Online today to advance your career.