Studying Online: Your Student Guide

Studying online is currently one of the most popular higher education alternatives and has proved itself to be just as effective as classroom education.

With more and more students (high-school graduates, working professionals, stay-at-home mums, and others) opting to study online, higher education has never been more in demand.
But there is a lot of information to take in when opting to study online.
This guide will help break down the process and understand the advantages of online learning.

Getting Started
The first thing you need to do is decide if you are ready to take an online course;

  • Have you thought it out?
  • Are you ready to commit to the time you will need to dedicate?
  • Have you got the necessary skills?
  • How will this course benefit you?
  • What are your end goals?

Choosing to study online comes with many benefits but be very sure you are ready to take on the challenge so that you remain dedicated to your cause throughout. Be certain that you are ready for the course you are planning on taking; does it have any pre-requisites and do you need to brush up on any skills before you dive in?

Online course structure
The structure of an online course and the subjects it consists of are an important factor when choosing your study route. So what should you look out for when choosing your online course? A well-structured and carefully designed course will provide sound guidelines on course structure; what kind of work needs to be done (i.e. tests, online debates, written assignments, etc.), when all coursework needs to be submitted and what is generally expected of you as a student.

Staying on top of the work load
A major difference between online studying and classroom studying is that online studying requires discipline – especially as you don’t have the classroom lectures to attend regularly. But this isn’t a bad thing. Having a schedule, and sticking to it, can be a serious factor in how well you do.  
Another essential factor is the workload that is involved. Bear in mind that just because the course is online and probably in the comfort of your own home, does not mean that the amount of work you’ll need to do will be less than if attending real classes.  However, online studying is often easier to manage in that you can study within your own timeframe and at your own pace for a start.
Another important element to bear in mind is not to take too many modules at the same time. This is one of the reasons why so many students drop-out, as they are unable to cope with the mounting pressure of too many different courses. Choose your modules carefully and remember your online course is for you, so take all the time you need.

Instructor Support
An important element in the success of your online course will depend largely on the support you receive from your course instructor.
An online instructor is typically the person who, throughout the duration of the course, interacts, co-operates and assists the students with their online course. The instructor will be there to give feedback, grades and generally be present to answer any questions or give advice.
Of course, other students can also help with many of these issues but having an instructor who is available often and on-hand to give that much needed answer to a question will definitely ensure a smoother, more pleasant and ultimately successful degree or qualification. It is imperative that before you sign-up for your course you know who your instructor is, how available they will be throughout your course and basically what kind of help you can expect from them.

Study Skills
There are plenty of tips on how to successfully enhance your study skills. Let’s take a look at a few of them:

  • Time-Management
    Discipline is by far the most important factor in the success of your online course. Establishing a schedule for study time is essential and making sure you stick to those times and don’t get distracted will place you on the right path to a happy and flourishing study path.
  • Stay Motivated
    Often students can become complacent when taking an online course as they don’t have the right motivation or lose interest. Staying motivated doesn’t have to be difficult. Staying focused on your end goal, achieving good grades or even promising yourself that gorgeous designer handbag or a weekend away in Prague if you do well are just some of the ways to staying motivated.
    Another way to remain motivated is to work with other students; making friends and having discussions and debates with others on your course can extinguish any feelings of being on your own and will almost certainly help keep you inspired.
  • Online discussions
    Student interaction should be a major part of your online study course and this usually occurs through online discussions that permit students, and frequently instructors, to interact at certain specific times.  These online discussions provide opportunities for students to discuss any problems they may be having, debate topics and hear different opinions and even just have a much-needed laugh.
  • Questions
    Asking questions is something we have been doing since we started to talk. And why do we ask questions? To learn the answers. By asking questions students are able to delve deeper into the subject which consequently makes the subject more comprehendible.  Asking questions and taking the time to research and discuss the answers is vital to a student’s success.

Take your time when choosing
There is a whole world of information out there and thousands and thousands of courses and online institutions to choose from. As long as you meet the entry requirements you can afford to be selective. Take the time to research the institution and the courses you plan to take. Check out credit ratings and feedback from other students. And make sure you really understand the course design. It’s a big part of your life and deserves to be chosen well, with as much support and as many benefits for you as possible.

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