Every college needs a commencement speech at the start of the semester – here’s a quick one for all online-degree freshmen out there…. “Congratulations and good luck – today is the first day of your online college career – we want you to be so successful, reach new heights and set new standards for yourself – it’s not going to be easy – but here are 7 habits that you need to develop that separate the best from the rest…….”
Follow your schedule
There are actually 2 habits here: make a schedule and follow it. Unless you’ve been home schooled, online study may present a very new challenge – it’s up to you, and you alone. In high school, and often in work, your schedule is set for you, and you follow it – right action, right place, right time. Your first task is to put together a weekly schedule that includes what you are going to do, and when. This includes courses, assignments, and meetings. You may need to adjust as you go, but if you have no schedule you are quite probably going to get lost in your work.
Once you have your schedule, you have to commit to following it, no excuses – Just do it! (you may have heard that somewhere before).
Get tech’d out
Just like you’d expect a carpenter to turn up with a bag of the right tools, or a painter to have paints, brushes and canvas, you have to have all the tools you need from the start. If you are told you need a computer, get a computer as you won’t be able to do it from your smartphone. If you need to sign up for online services, do it, if you need to get to the office supply store, get there. The pace of a degree course is a whole lot faster than at high school, you’ll get more done in a class than you did in weeks of school. If you are fighting with the technology, maybe you can’t open a document, or you can’t hear a lecture, you are going to fall behind really quickly. Get organized now, no excuses.
Make a study place for yourself
Although it seems really cool to be able to learn in front of the game or while you eat, pretty quickly you’ll realize that you need to remove all distractions. Online college may be at home, but it’s still college. Maximize your chance of success, and make a quiet home for your studies, even if it’s a folding table and chair in a quiet room – you won’t regret it.
If you leave all your assignments until the night before, like you did in high school, you’ll quickly discover that the nights just ain’t long enough! When you get an assignment, start it immediately. Once you’re in it, you can decide whether to reprioritize if you get another assignment to deliver earlier, but if there’s nothing in the way, just get it done.
Communicate, communicate, communicate
Communicate with your course tutors and student advisors, they’re human and they want you to be successful. Reach out to them early and often and make them success partners. Ask good questions, come prepared and ask for advice.
Communicate with your peers, it’s amazing what others can bring from other perspectives. Online college is not like high school where you are all into the same things and live in the same place. You’ll be mixing with a demographically, geographically and socio-economically diverse group of people. Learn from them.
Communicate with your family, friends and old school friends. Discuss your goals, your projects, and your problems. You’re not a school kid anymore, time to use those adult resources that have been around you forever.
Read everything and then more
If you thought that you could get away with skimming or not reading all your coursework – no chance! When you get an assignment, read the supplied material, then read all the supplementary materials, and then seek out and read other materials. You need to get ahead, say something different and be noticed. It’s a great practice for life. Research is one of the key skills that you need to learn in college – you won’t regret it.
Start with the end in mind
Let’s leave the last habit for the master of the 7 habits – Stephen Covey himself. Even though this is an early habit in the 7 Habits System it’s important whenever you mention it. Whatever you do, think about how it will impact and fit into your end-game. It’s a great way to stop yourself from doing unimportant work. If what you are doing doesn’t have a positive effect on your end goal, don’t do it. If you could be doing it better, and getting a better outcome, change course. Never ever start without a plan, and a clear path from start to finish.
One of the advantages of getting your online degree with Total Testing and Daemen University is our academic advisors who are there for more than just signing you up. Their success is measured by your success. If you need help developing some good habits, get in touch, they’d love to hear from you.