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Online College: How to Be Successful

Updated on September 23, 2012

Online colleges and online classes

I'm sure you've seen some of the ads on television about online college. Maybe you're wondering if online colleges are legitimate or not, or if they're the right choice for you or your son or daughter. Many online colleges are completely legit and fully accredited. Attending online college is a great way to further your education. I've attended all kinds of classes, and I've found that online college programs are by far the most enjoyable. There's no driving to a physical location, you can do your studies around your schedule, and you can "go to class" in your pajamas, if you wish.

Many local colleges offer online classes and degrees. There are also plenty of online colleges. Choose from among the numerous accredited online colleges and earn your online college degree. You can earn an online college bachelor degree, an online college master's degree, or even an online college MBA. Amazingly, you can even earn an online college PHD. Imagine how that could boost your earning capabilites! Find one that fits your needs, and get started.

Perhaps you already have some credits from attending a traditional college or university - but not enough for graduation. You can find online college programs that will allow you to earn online college credits to go with your existing credits, allowing you to complete your degree.

From my experience, once you sign up and pay your fees, you choose the classes you need, with the help of an advisor. You'll get a syllabus and a course outline, along with a textbook. Many online instructors also provide video lectures. These are great because you can play them over and over if you need to! I strongly suggest watching the lectures more than once. Just pour yourself a cup of coffee, get comfy, and soak in the knowledge.

My youngest daughter is currently attending online college now. She's been taking online classes for a couple of years now, and she graduates this spring. She also attended traditional college, and she's found that online classes are much easier for her. For one thing, she's hearing impaired, and she always had a problem understanding her professors' lectures. Of course, this hasn't been a problem with online courses because all of the material has been in print, so she can just read it! There have been a few video lectures that served as supplemental information, but these weren't a problem for her, either. She just plugged in her headphones and turned up the volume as loud as she needed in order to hear every word.

With most online classes and online colleges, you never have to set foot on a campus. A very few, however, might require that you attend a lab occasionally. This is rare, and you can find out up front if any labs are required before signing up for a course. In most cases, you'll have a choice between visiting the bookstore to purchase your required books or having them mailed straight to your home.

With online colleges that don't require you to actually visit the physical campus, your options for attending online college are huge. For example, several of my teacher friends got their post-graduate degrees through colleges hundreds or even thousands of miles away, like from the University of Phoenix, for example. These teachers all reside in Georgia.

Online college tips for success

Each assignment and its due date will be listed, along with detailed instruction. Don't get behind. Many online istructors will not accept late assignments. I always liked to stay a week or so ahead. That way, if something unexpected comes up, I have allowed myself some extra time. Your grade for each assignment will be posted online, and only you will be able to view your grades. You'll be given a personal password for access.

Last semester, my daughter took an art history class online. The instructor provided all kinds of links to famous works of art and to virtual tours of the world's most famous art museums and galleries. I enjoyed this function myself, even though I wasn't the one taking the course!

Your online college instructor will provide his email address to you so that you can always ask questions about assignments or grades. Don't hesitate to use this function!

Many online college classes also have class discussions over each assignment. This gives you a chance to interact online with your classmates and get their ideas and opinions about individual assignments. Generally speaking, the class instructor usually gets in on the discussions, too.

Sometimes instructors assign group projects for specific lessons. With these, you'll work via emails with your group members. If everyone is local, you might want to meet in person to work together. If not, all the work can be done through emails or telephone contacts.

Online College Testing and Proctored Exams

When it's time to take a test or quiz, these are usually done online, too. Depending on the length of the exam, you'll be given a time limit in which to complete the assessment. Most of these are multiple choice and true/false, and I've found the time limits to be generous. I've never needed the full time period allotted. In fact, I almost always finished the tests in less than half the time allowed.

Occasionally, you might have an instructor that requires some tests to be taken at an educational facility with a proctor. This doesn't usually mean that you have to travel to the physical location of the college you're attending. When my daughter has had to take proctored tests at an educational facility for her online classes, she was allowed to do so at a technical school near her home.

Online College Advisors

When you're attending online college, you'll have an advisor, just as you would with traditional college. Be sure to keep in touch with your advisor. You need to be proactive, too. Review the course outline to make sure you know exactly which courses you'll need to complete your program of study. Stay on top of this! Some advisors are wonderful, but a few aren't. If you don't stay informed about which classes are required, you could end up enrolling in a class you've already taken. Yes, this happens occasionally.

Disabled Students and Online College

I believe online colleges are the wave of the future. They just make so much sense - to both the students and the instructors. They're especially advantageous for non-traditional students: working moms and dads, older students, and students with physical disablilites who find it difficult to attend classes in the traditional manner.

Think about how much easier and more accessible online classes would be for someone who's physically disabled. There's no navigating a campus involved, and no sitting in a desk is required. Even schools and colleges that provide handicap access and other modifications are a lot tougher to attend than are your own home!


Of course, you'll need to have textbooks for your online classes, and you might be presented with several options. These can be purchased new from the college bookstore, and you might also find used books in the bookstore for your classes. You can also find tons of new and used textbooks on a range of online stores, including Amazon and Ebay. Just be sure to get the book's ISBN. Another place to find used textbooks for sale is on your college's website. Some allow students to post used textbooks for sale.

And there's even another option for college textbooks that don't require a purchase: renting. There are several online sites that will allow you to rent textbooks. Once you finish using the book, you simply return it.

Financial aid for online college

If you're worried about financial aid, don't. The online colleges my family and friends have had experience with have all offered financial aid programs, including the Pell Grant, the Stafford Loan, and other types of college loans for both students and parents. Most of the financial aid forms can be filled online and emailed to the proper department. Just be sure that your online college is accredited by an agency that's been approved by the Department of Education. If the online college you're looking at doesn't fit this requirement, you won't be eligible for federal aid.

Think about all the money and time you can save by attending an online college! No gas to buy, no meals to purchase, and no wasting time driving back and forth. And since most of your needed materials and resouces are posted online, those long sessions at the college library are non-existant for most online college classes. You'll just need your computer and a little extra time, and before you know it, you'll have your degree! If you've been meaning to further your education, check out online college today.

Enjoy attending online college in the comfort of your own home!
Enjoy attending online college in the comfort of your own home!

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