Studying online is usually seen as the more convenient and flexible alternative to taking a course on campus. While this is, in general, correct, and you have none of the pressures of attending lectures at set times, you need to consider many other things if you are to get the most out of the experience (and the highest grade you can).
One of the distinct advantages of studying on campus is that it has all of the resources necessary for your further education. It is a place that students already associate with academic work, so there are no mixed messages about what you should be doing and how you will do it. This is not always the case when studying remotely online for a variety of reasons.
You have probably chosen to study online because you have commitments that prevent you from attending college or university in person. Most frequently, this will be your full-time job or family members or friends who rely on you to perform vital tasks for them.
With these as significant factors already, your first (and probably most important) task is to ensure that the things that stopped you from attending the course in person do not now prevent you from completing the program.
With this in mind, here are some things you need when studying online.
#1 A safe, quiet place to study
Having a quiet space to work in may seem like an obvious thing to start with, but you cannot underestimate how important your own area is to get on with your studies. If you can imagine for a moment the place where you live and all of the distractions you would typically have, then it’s clear that finding an isolated location can be beneficial.
These distractions include partners who want to talk, children who would normally see the fact that you are home as ‘playtime,’ and pets that think the same thing or just want to come and sit on your nice, warm laptop.
If you usually work during the day, you already see evenings as ‘free’ or family time, and you will find it hard to work if you do not remove yourself from your regular evening or weekend routine. Breaking this pattern can be done in one of many ways. If you have a spare room, you could make this a study space and clear an area where you can get on with your course.
If a whole room is not available, then a dedicated spare can be a viable alternative. You could place a desk under the stairs or in the hallway, somewhere you are away from the usual distractions like the TV and away from the regular backward and forward trips to the kitchen that generally take place.
#2 Find time to study
Once you have somewhere to study, you will also make sure you have time to study. Your course tutors or fellow students will have some idea how many hours the course could take to complete and the number of months or years you have to do it. You can then work out how many hours you need to dedicate each week to study.
While drawing up exact timetables might be a fruitless exercise, agreeing in principle with your employer and your family that one evening a week is your study time could be a step in the right direction. This arrangement could work in many ways; for instance, agree that you would not be ‘on call’ or available to answer work emails at that time, or a partner or family member takes care of cooking dinner and keeping the kids occupied so you can study.
This might be a bit shaky at first, but after a few weeks, it could well be part of the new routine and adhered to just as much as the previous one. You could also build in a contingency, if possible, where you have some ‘catch up’ weekends where you can get on with anything that you found problematic or took longer than you expected.
#3 Ensure you have the correct resources to study
As mentioned before, a college or university is purpose-built for study, with all of the space and resources you need to complete your course. Your home may be the complete opposite. So. If you are going to complete your course, you will need to ensure you have everything you need.
The majority of online courses will have all of the resources you need available at the click of a mouse. However, that is often not enough. When colleges and universities put together courses, they can often opt for the most up-to-date materials, which might be too advanced for your creaky old laptop. If that is the case, you may need to search for laptop computers online to find one that is right for you.
You may also need to source a printer to have hard copies of some of your coursework. However, those can usually found cheaply on Facebook or auction sites such as eBay, somewhere that you can also use to find your other course materials.
In addition to this, you will need to ensure that you have reliable internet access for your chosen space, so getting hold of a WIFI booster might need to be added to your ‘to do’ list, along with somewhere to back up your work.
The college or university will usually have some server space or cloud storage to store your assignments. However, sourcing a solution of your own like a thumb drive will leave you with peace of mind in the event of a tech mishap
Completing a college a university, or college course online is often the preferred solution for those who want to study for a qualification but have commitments that stop them from attending in person. Learning online does come with its challenges, however, and if you are going to get the grade you are aiming for, then ensuring that you have space to study, a time when you are not going to be disturbed, and reliable tech to do your work on are vital.