News and Media > 2017 > Spring Semester Success Tips

Spring Semester Success Tips

Published: Friday, 20 January 2017

We’re at the top of another new semester. It’s only a few days old, but we hope things are going (and continue to go) smoothly.

As we did before the fall semester last year, let’s go over a few things that should help the next four months fly by without by without too much hassle*.

*Please don’t hold us to this. Results may vary.

Obviously, as an online student, you’re in a different spot than traditional students who are on campus most days of the week. Typically, online students work full-time jobs, so we can assume you already have enough on your plate without having to worry about when your next paper is due.

So what can you do to juggle all that and make sure you’re successful this semester?

  1. Don’t be afraid to share things about your life. Writing can be cathartic. Most of us write better than we speak, so look at your online courses as a perfect opportunity to express yourself in ways you may not feel comfortable in a traditional class setting. You’re probably going to have to do some kind of discussion board assignments and communicate with both your instructor and your fellow students, so why not be open and honest? Maybe, through sharing your experiences, you encourage somebody to do the same. This makes the class setting better and more comfortable for everyone!
  2. If you’re having a problem, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Because you’re not around people for class, it can be easy to trick yourself into thinking you’re in this thing by yourself. Don’t do this! You’ll have plenty of resources to get assistance from. If you’re not sure about an assignment or not totally clear on when an assignment is due, please ask someone! Remember, you not only have to deal with due dates, you’ll have specific times you need to turn things in. That may take some adjusting to, but you’ll get uses to it, which reminds us…
  3. Practice self-motivation and time management. We all procrastinate. It’s an especially easy trap to fall into when you’re in a room by yourself sitting in front of an electronic box that gives you access to any and everything you could ever want access to. Why research your next big paper when your friend just shared the hilarious videos of that Turkish chef salting his meat? You watch that and the next thing you know, you’ve been watching dumb videos for three hours and you have no idea how the day got away from you. We know it’s difficult, but you have to avoid this. One lost day turns into a lost week, then a lost month and eventually a lost semester. Invest in a planner. Get somebody you trust to password protect any fun sites. Anything you need to do to nail yourself to the chair and get your work done.
  4. Take a break every once in a while. Of course, don’t nail yourself to that chair too tightly. Your eyes will feel like they’re crossing if you sit in front of a screen too long. Every once in a while, stand up and take a walk for 10 minutes. Eat a sandwich. Spend a few minutes with your loved ones before you have to retreat back to the dungeon.
  5. Be prepared to commit a lot of time to your courses. It’s a common misconception that online classes – where you’ll never see the teacher and you don’t technically have to go to class everyday – are easier than traditional classes. In reality, they can be more difficult because you have to be more disciplined. Don’t expect to only spend an hour or so per week on each class and skate through with an A. There are discussion boards, reading assignments, assessments, modules and so on. It takes a real commitment and you need to take it just as seriously (if not more seriously) as you would a traditional class.
  6. Have access to a reliable Internet connection. This sounds dumb and like common sense, but let us paint a picture for you. You’ve got a paper due at midnight. You’re just about done, but you’ve got to move some stuff around and finish typing up your works cited page. Shouldn’t take you longer than 30, 45 minutes tops. So you wait. When you feel like it that night, you finish everything up and go to turn it in, but your Internet is down and it’s a quarter to midnight. Almost makes you break out in a sweat just typing that. Listen, technology, while awesome, can be unreliable and wildly unpredictable. Please make sure you’ve got all that shored up before you take on an online course load.

Most of this just all comes down to commitment. Commitment not just from you, but from your instructor, the course designers and your fellow students. It takes a lot of work to make an online course viable, and if you or any of those groups fall behind, it’s hard to salvage it.

So stay committed and have a wonderful semester!