Online students choose to pursue their education over the Internet for plenty of reasons ranging from convenience to affordability. Whatever motivated your decision to earn an online degree, it is important that you understand as much as possible about this method of study before you begin.
Here are 9 things that every current and aspiring online student should know.
1. You Need a Reliable Internet Connection
Whether you’re downloading a long video for next class or streaming a lecture live, you’ll go through a lot of bandwidth when studying online.
In order to ensure that you can always access course materials or take exams, invest in a reliable Internet connection or work in a library that promises a secure connection.
2. Pay Attention to Time Zones
Online courses are often offered around the world, so pay close attention to the time zones for live lectures and exams. You might be ready to go at 7 PM on the dot from California, but that is no good if the lecture was three hours early at 7 PM eastern time.
3. You May Need to Download New Software for Your Courses
The right browser and software can make your online course much simpler. At the beginning of the program, find out whether you’ll need to have software like Word, Flash or Adobe.
4. You Can’t Raise Your Hand, But You Can Ask Questions
You might not be able to physically raise your hand and be called on, but you can still ask questions. In fact, many live streaming courses are designed so that you can ask or type questions in real time like a traditional lecture hall classroom.
5. You Can Switch Your Major
Just like with a traditional campus degree, there is some flexibility to change your major, especially after just one or two years of study. Take advantage of this if you feel your interests veering into a new direction over time.
6. You Might Still Want to Buy Physical Textbooks
Studying online can mean that all of your resources and materials are also available online. However, if you travel frequently or prefer paper to screens, then buying physical textbooks may be one way for you to study more often.
7. Learn How to Isolate Yourself for Online Exams
A traditional exam means having the maximum time allotted in a quiet space with no distractions. Online students taking exams at home, however, might not have that luxury. Make sure that you create a secluded space where you can take your online exams with absolutely no interruptions.
8. Find Out How to Contact Teaching Staff
On the first day of your online program, find out how to contact teaching staff or lecturers. Keep their contact information safe in case you need help, suggestions or advice in the future.
9. Open-Book Exams Are Not as Easy as They Sound
Since you’ll be taking many of your exams on your own, they are typically designed so that you can use your resources as needed. However, this kind of open-book exam is no walk in the park, and you’ll still need to be prepared or risk failing.
With these nine tips in mind, online students will be ready to tackle their education.