How to Succeed Going to School Online

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Going to school online is not for the lazy student. It is not for those that want the easy way out. Getting an online education takes determination and organization. There are several things you can do to help yourself succeed online.

What Attracts You to Going to School Online?

  • Cost
  • Flexibility
  • Fits into your schedule
  • Distance
  • Other
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Increased Number of Students Going to School Online

More and more people are going to school online. According to the Institute of Education Sciences' (IES), close to ten million students are going to school online now. That is huge. Going to school online is not something that is a passing fancy. People are finding more and more reasons to choose online classes as it fits easier into everyday life.

I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s discuss the benefits of going to school online.

Pros

As you can see, millions of people are finding out that going to school online is perfect for them. There are a variety of reasons that it has come to be.

  • Great for busy schedules – When you go to school online, there is no set time you have to be in a classroom. You have deadlines but not set times. That means you don’t have to coordinate doctor appointments, family events, and such around your class schedule. You can do the opposite. Even vacations don’t have to get in the way.
  • Flexible – Going to school is very flexible. If you are having a bad morning, you don’t have to go to class. You can put it off until that evening if you want. Electricity goes off? You can go to the library or local coffee shop. You don’t have to be studying at a specific time.
  • Pushes Self-Study – There is a lot more self-study when it comes to going to school online. You won’t find the majority of the information handed to you. You have to look for it. Research is key to getting most of your material. Many schools are shying away from standard textbooks and letting the students find the material. From a student’s point of view that can be good and bad. Good in that it helps you know the material better. Bad in that it takes more time devoted to the schoolwork.
  • Easier Attendance – If you have been to a brick and mortar school, you know that always showing up on time can be hard when you have other obligations. Going to school online is easier to attend as you don’t have to physically be anywhere but on your computer. You can be on a beach or in a conference room. I have sat at ballgames and answered class questions. It is so much easier to attend as you can literally be in more than one place at a time.

Cons

Everything comes with a con, even online education. Keep in mind that all pros and cons and be subjective meaning that one person might see it as a pro while another sees it as a con.

  • Limited Physical Interactions – Many people like to physically interact with people. They thrive on the social feel of groups. With online education, you don’t get that. It is like being in forums. You interact but it is all done without seeing each other or actually hearing each other’s voices. To many, this is a big con. To others it could be a huge benefit.
  • Too Little Structure – Many people have to have structure in their lives. It has to be handed to them and not left up to them to make. These people need to know that at two o’clock every Monday and Wednesday they have to be in class. They can’t just be told that by Thursday they have to get the work done. They’ll end up waiting until Thursday to look at their work when left to their own devices.
  • Too Much Self-Study – Some students can’t be told to research on their own. They need a textbook and guidance. The material needs to be there for them.
  • Not Good for Those Unorganized People – If you aren’t organized, you’ll find yourself stressed out by going to school online. You need to know what is due when, be able to set time aside to get your work done, and juggle classes, work, and family. Because you have to find your own ‘class time’, you need to be able to make yourself pull away from the distractions around you and get the work done.

Tips to Help You Succeed

As you can tell, online school isn’t for everyone. But it can be the best thing for many people. Even if you are iffy, here are some tips that will help you succeed in going to school online.

  • Have a Place for Your Stuff – If you have a place for your stuff, you’ll always know where to find it. I study on my bed, in the rec room, on the dining room table, and in the living room. In the summer, I move my studies outside. But my dictionary, thesaurus, Chicago Manual of Style, notebooks, pens/pencils, and anything else I might need can always be found by my side or on my desk. Eases my stress levels and helps me get my work done quicker.
  • Calendar/Planner – This is very important if you want to succeed in going to school online. If you are like me, there are a million other things going on in your life. I have a planner that I use to keep track of it all. When school starts, I use my syllabus to fill in my calendar. Then I know what weeks I need to avoid taking on extra work because of an increase in school assignments. Put the deadlines down for all assignments so you don’t plan things that will prevent you from getting them done.
  • Plan Your Days Out – This goes alone the same line as the calendar tip above. I know that Monday’s (which are the first of my school weeks) is the day I read my lessons and watch any videos my teacher has assigned. That is just a reading day. I let Tuesday be my let it ferment into fine wine day. Wednesday I write my draft of my forum post (mini essay). Depending on the day the posts are due, they are refined and then posted. After that, any papers I need to write are tackled as they are never due until Sunday night. That gives me Thursday through Sunday to get them finalized. Knowing I have to focus on a paper means avoiding making too many social plans during that time or taking on extra work.
  • Have Backup Plans – Trust me, no matter how well you plan, life will turn it all upside down. You need to have backup plans. For example, I might have my forum post and two major papers due this week. It just happens that one kid got sick and stayed home one day while another day was a planned day for the school to be closed. I cannot study with three kids running around. I pack up and go to the library or the local coffee shop. Since they are older kids, they can be alone. I have to get my assignments done. Have places to escape to when you have to or have others help you when you find yourself in such a predicament.
  • Get the Work Done Early – Don’t wait till the last minute to get your work done. I’ve done it, yes, and it increases my stress to unhealthy levels. Get it done early in the week. You never know when you’ll love internet/electricity or get very sick. Most professors will work with you as they have with me, but you don’t want to risk having to do that every week. Help your stress levels and get the work done as soon as you can. You can breathe easier as the days go by.
  • Go Above and Beyond – It is tempting to do the bare minimum. Some professors will accept that, but you’ll find yourself really scoring points when you go above and beyond the minimum requirement. If the minimum post for the week is 350 words, don’t do 351 and feel that is acceptable. Expand on it without going over 600 or so. Show the instructor that you researched and really learned something. Ask questions. I’ve done that in posts to stimulate comments. Most professors love that.
  • Use All Your Resources – You’ll be amazed at the resources at your disposal. Online universities have libraries online to review ebooks and to literally check out print books. Mine will actually mail me the book I need. Then there is your local library. You have the internet which can give you dictionaries, essays, and a wealth of information on your topic. Don’t forget local businesses and sites that can help you. As a history major, I can use my local historical society or actually visit some of the sites I’m studying. And don’t forget the resources you have in the people supporting you. Take advantage of them in a nice way. Let them watch the kids, give you a place to hide, or even help you get a break from your studies to chill out. Resources are all around you. Use them.

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Comments 7 comments

rose-the planner profile image

rose-the planner 3 years ago from Toronto, Ontario-Canada

I have taken online courses in the past and you need a great deal of discipline to succeed. It is definitely for independent learners and far more difficult than an in-class environment. Personally, I enjoyed the classes and there was adequate interaction with the professors and students. Great article! Thanks for sharing. (Voted up)


rhomy 3 years ago

Very helpful and interesting! With online studying I discovered I'm far less organized than I thought! lol


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean

I like the way you presented the pros and cons and then help us decide. Great article. Good information. Voted Up!


Michelle Cornwell-Jordan 3 years ago

Very informative, a useful aide to help build a plan before signing onto the commitment of going to school on-line, great post!:)


eLearningIndia profile image

eLearningIndia 3 years ago

Its funny to find distance as an option for Online school poll. I think, online courses are independent of distance. Further these are highly flexible and provides learning at one's own pace as these distance learning courses - http://www.facebook.com/University18


Evan Smiley profile image

Evan Smiley 2 years ago from Oklahoma City

My only worry is that an online school won't seem as credible as a university. What are some online schools that have really good reputations?


RGraf profile image

RGraf 2 years ago from Wisconsin Author

Many major universities are producing completely online programs. Forerunners in that area are Grand Canyon University and American Public University.

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