College Advice Blog

Oct 16, 2012

7 Tips for New Students of Online Community College Degrees

Most students choose to attend online degree programs to advance their careers, with the ultimate goal of obtaining a higher-paying position in their chosen field or even switching career fields entirely. Managing your time wisely and staying organized will help you become a productive and successful student while studying for your degree online. Here are some important tips to help you make the most of your online university experience.

Use Up-to-Date Computer Equipment and High-Speed Internet

Make sure that you have a computer in good working condition with all the necessary programs installed. Before starting your online courses, you should receive a syllabus which lists your hardware and software requirements. You’ll also want to make sure that you have a reliable Internet Service Provider (ISP) to avoid service outages while you’re studying or working on assignments. Having a high-speed ISP is the best choice.

Set Up a Dedicated, Quiet Study Space

Make sure your computer is in a quiet place conducive for studying and completing assignments without interruption. You don’t want people talking, phones ringing or children screaming while you’re trying to focus on school work. Also, think about alternative areas where you can study in case your original designated study area is not working out. 

Find an Assignment Tracking Method That Works for You

Keep track of when your assignments are due using modern technology. Most new cell phones including the Blackberry, iPhone and other Android devices have a calendar feature or other app that will remind you of your upcoming assignments. You can set a reminder to go off prior to the assignment’s due date. If you’re not comfortable with relying on a digital device to track your tasks, a standard day planner will also do the trick. Choose the method that you’re most comfortable with to stay on top of your tasks and due dates.

Plan Your Time Accordingly

Manage your time wisely, making sure to allocate ample study time and enough time to complete assignments. Some students have to work, have children or other responsibilities that take up their time. Added flexibility is often one reason many students choose an online university. Making a schedule will also strengthen your time management skills.

Ask for Help When Needed

Don’t be afraid to contact your instructor if you need help or have questions. Often, online universities utilize chat programs to facilitate communication between students and professors. You won’t typically meet your professors in person, but you want to make a good impression via your web communication.

Avoid Procrastination

Work ahead whenever possible and always do what needs to be done today, not tomorrow. Completing assignments long before they’re due will help you have more time to study for tests and prepare for employment. It will also make balancing your daily life and your school commitments less stressful, giving you more free time to manage your other responsibilities.

Prepare for Your Entry to the Workforce

Prepare for graduation by writing a cover letter and resume, seeking an internship, and creating a network of professionals who work in your chosen field. You can also interview in your field for practice. After graduation, the bulk of your time will be spent job hunting. Practicing and preparing in advance can help you secure employment in less time after graduation.

Being a new student is overwhelming, especially if you’re returning to school after spending some time in the workforce. Staying organized and prepared, managing your time well and being ambitious will only make your online degree experience that much more rewarding.


About the Author
Natalie Bracco is a freelance writer and an amateur baker. When she's not busy in the kitchen, you can find her writing about food, education, and technology. 

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