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Five (5) Tips For You If you Are Going For An Online Degree Courses 2016

"In other online programs, I could maybe

check in once or twice a week and still get a

decent grade," says Finley, who took seven

online courses previously while earning a

bachelor's and master's degree. "For this, I

actually had to set up dedicated times for

when I had to log in just to check that there

weren't things posted overnight. I had to

change my whole thought process of how to

attack these courses."

Finley says that students should not have a

carefree attitude when taking an online

course, because some may prove to be more

difficult than traditional classes. "In my opinion,

I think online courses are actually a little

harder," he adds. For students who are

considering online courses over in-class

instruction, here are five tips for success.

1. Confirm technical requirements: Online

classes can benefit students with busy

schedules, but only if they can access the

materials.

"You're going to need to understand what the

technical requirements are," advises Andrew

Wolf, coordinator of online learning at the

University of Rochester School of Nursing .

"Make sure before the course starts that your

computer will work with [all the online tools],

and that you know how to navigate them so

that you don't have to spend time during the

course trying to figure out the technology."

2. Connect with instructors early: After taking

online courses in the past, Finley says he

assumed his previous experiences would

dictate future successes at Wake Forest.

"I know initially for me, I didn't contact my

instructor because I felt like [the course] was

going to be really easy for me," he

acknowledges. But after multiple writing

assignments were returned to him to revise,

he says that he quickly changed his approach

to the course and reached out for help.

"Once I started coordinating with [my

instructor], I realized I needed to change my

writing style," Finley says. "You have to really

stay in contact; it's extremely important."

While instructors are available to help

throughout the courses, Finley advises

students to also find answers to class

questions independently, if possible. "Help is

available but it's not going to be available at

the snap of a finger," he says. "You can't just

think you're going to be able to reach right

out with a problem. You have to be willing to

go out and find things on your own."

3. Create a schedule: Quality online instructors

will create courses that are easy to navigate

and have clear expectations, notes Wolf.

"Really good professors will help you put the

framework in place," he says. "If you don't

have that type of framework in place, you'll

have to do it yourself."

When Finley began his online course, he says

he needed to dedicate two-to-three hour time

blocks to log in and complete assignments. "I

had to change around my entire schedule to

complement my course," he adds. "I'm using

Microsoft Outlook more than ever to set up

when projects are due and to stay on track

with the assignments. You have to dedicate

time to this."

4. Stay organized: Students enrolled in

traditional courses usually have a consistent

schedule to follow each week, with in-class

instruction followed by out-of-class

assignments. For online courses, students

may have to find their own ways to stay on

top of their work, notes Karen Stevens, chief

undergraduate adviser of the University of

Massachusetts—Amherst 's University Without

Walls program.

"Students really, really need to be organized

from the beginning to be successful in an

online course," Stevens wrote in an E-mail.

"All assignment due dates should be in their

calendar, online or paper folders should be

created for each week, [and] the work area

should be not only quiet but clean—keeping

all coursework materials together."

5. Have a consistent workspace: One thing

online and in-class courses have in common

is that students still need a place to study or

complete assignments, whether that's at a

coffee shop, the school library, or at home.

Wherever students choose to study and

complete assignments, they should make it a

consistent location that's free of outside

interferences, notes Rochester's Wolf.

"I've actually had students who have told me

that they've been in the middle of an exam

and their 2-year-old starts crying," he says.

"You need a place to study that's quiet for a

time that's set aside where you can focus on

your work without distractions."

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