One of the fastest growing education trends in the United States is online learning. According to the 2015 Survey of Online Learning conducted by the Babson Survey Research Group, more than one in four students in 2015 took at least one distance education course. That means that nearly 6 million students every year in the U.S. take online classes. What characteristics make a successful online student?
1—Communicate Your Commitment
Family and friends might not be aware that you’re tackling course work and might not understand that you’re not just surfing the Internet or spending time on social media. Take the time to explain your online program and your degree goals to family and friends. Let them know your study plan and course load ahead of time.
Dr. Jeannine Klein, professor for Northcentral University’s Department of Psychology, agrees that communication is essential. “I do think it is really important that we talk to family and friends about our educational journey so they know how committed we are to the final goal and explain to them the role they will play in it as cheerleaders.”
2—Expect the Unexpected
Internet and technology issues can also create havoc when you need to complete online assignments. Having a backup plan is essential. Identifying a temporary work location, such as a local café, library or friend’s house, where you can go if technical problems arise, can help you meet assignment deadlines.
Keep in mind that an online program requires interaction for the learning process to work. At NCU, you are enrolled in a unique and flexible one-to-one learning model where you interact with your doctoral professor through email, chat, video conferencing and other Internet tools. While there are no group projects that you must be a part of, you will need to network with your professor in order to get the most out of your learning experience. This requires a reliable Internet connection.
3—Connect with Students
While the NCU one-to-one learning experience means you won’t be participating in group projects, there are ample opportunities for connecting with other students. Because online learning might make you feel isolated, support from your classmates is just a click away.
At NCU, we’ve established The Commons to give you the opportunity to easily connect with each other for support, conversation and a feeling of community. Within The Commons, you can share information through live “Facebook-like” activity streams. You can also curate your academic identity and connections while keeping these activities separate from your personal social networks.
NCU has even set up live events, such as Dissertation Boot Camps and other activities that, from time to time, give students an opportunity to connect in person.
4—Communicate with Your Professors
An online program is only successful when you make every effort to become an effective communicator. Not everyone going into an online program is a natural communicator, so it is imperative that you, as the student, reach out to the professor for assistance when necessary. “As faculty, we reach out to students at the start of a new class, and often we get to know one another via telephone, Skype or other computer-mediated technology,” says Dr. Klein.
Once you enroll, NCU has a rich set of tools available to you that can help you learn the appropriate style and language for your individual School. If you are working on your doctoral degree, there is a Dissertation Center specific to your School. Take the time to learn basic technical skills for the software and online tools. If you don’t understand directions, always ask your professor. One of the most important reminders is to read every email before hitting “Send.”
Northcentral University uses modern technology to connect students around the world to professors. NCU offers online master’s and doctoral degrees that can help you develop the skills and knowledge to lead others within your organization and set yourself apart from the competition. To get the most out of your education, however, you must be committed to your educational journey. By heeding these key characteristics, you can be a successful online student.