Whether you're earning an MBA or taking a class for personal enrichment, considering a few online school tips that will make the experience much more rewarding.
How familiar are you with computers? Make sure you have the necessary technical knowledge before applying to schools online. Trying to learn how to use your computer while also trying to master the subject of a class will only result in unnecessary stress. To become more proficient, you may find it helpful to take an introductory computer class before enrolling in any online program.
Maybe you're comfortable working with a computer, but there are a few computer programs that you don't know how to use. The online course description should tell you what applications will be necessary for completing assignments during the class. Whether you're asked to post your responses as web pages or input research data into a spreadsheet, familiarize yourself with the required programs before the first day of class so you can focus on the class topic and not the software.
Before you enroll in an online school, look over the technical requirements. Is your web browser up to date? Do you need any special software? Since your computer will be both your teacher and your classroom, it's important for it to be in top condition. Unless you're enrolled in a graphic design or computer-aided drafting program, you don't need a state-of-the-art system, but you must be able to perform basic online functions like uploading documents with ease. You should also seriously reconsider the possibility of attending an online school if you don't own a computer. It may seem obvious, but some students think they can easily use computers at work or the library, without realizing how difficult it will be to complete assignments and respond to discussions within the required timeframe.
It's Not a Traditional Class
Before signing up for an online class, realize it will be a different experience than the classes you're used to attending in a classroom. Much of the learning will be self-directed, and when you do interact with teachers and classmates, it will be through emails, chat rooms and message boards. Some students thrive on the give and take of classroom discussion, and an online class might not be the best environment for them. Others prefer to carefully consider an issue before discussing it, and the delayed nature of an online forum may be the ideal way for them to engage in learning. You also need to consider how self-motivated you are. Do you need the deadline of a weekly class meeting to complete your work?
Make Time for Online School
While flexibility is one of the greatest advantages of online schools, you must still make time in your schedule for completing assignments. With so many other activities begging for your time, it can be much too easy to put off working on your online assignments. Just because you don't have class on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6 to 9 doesn't mean you can ignore your commitment. Whether you set aside a block of time each week or you decide on a certain number of hours for studying every day, make time starting from the first week of class so you don't fall behind.
Since you don't have to face the instructor or the other students, it can be much easier to fade into the background of an online school than it is in a traditional classroom. In fact, it can be so easy, eventually you may decide it's all right to skip a reading or not attend an online chat. After all, who will notice? Depending on the class, participation may be factored into your final grade, and you might be surprised at what professors notice. Ultimately, though, you're only cheating yourself out of an education if you decline to participate fully in class.