Who better to offer advice on how to excel in an online degree program than students who are succeeding?
Naturally, every student enrolled in one of Saint Leo’s online degree programs has a unique story to tell.
Mike Fisk has a busy career in law enforcement and 11 children at home.
Katelyn Flanagan is a military spouse stationed in Spangdahelm, Germany.
Sergeant First Class William Haaren has a young family and is on active duty in the Army.
Saint Leo online students are working, raising children, volunteering and serving their country, churches and communities.
All in addition to pursuing their educations.
Adult learner balancing act
This balancing act for adult learners is a tricky one.
“I always do my schoolwork once the kids go to bed so they don’t feel like the small amount of time we have together is even less because of school,” says Saint Leo health care management student Jenn Kuettner, who also works full time.
Here, a few online students who have made the Dean’s List share some of the tips that have helped them achieve success.
Mike Bridwell, Newport News, Va.
1. Treat each week as a short term goal, and reward yourself for your continued successes.
Constantly reinvent yourself. With online schooling, I have found it paramount to the success of a student to continuously revitalize your mindset in order to remain focused.
Christine Lenkiewicz, Sweet Valley, Penn.
2. Stay current.
Keep up to date on all of the required readings.
3. Understand what is required of you ahead of time.
If there are any questions, this gives you time to ask the professor. Never wait until the last minute to figure things out or do your assignments – you may not be able to get the help you need in time.
4. Take advantage of tutoring services.
I have used the essay tutor service many times to improve my writing assignments.
Tim Burrell, Silverdale, Wash.
5. Read and save the module introductions, audio video presentations, and discussion board posts.
These are simple to save to a word document and you can then review them prior to weekly tests and exams and use them for reference when writing papers. I even do my discussion board posts on the same document, and it is an excellent tool for quick reference for definitions during module reading. Remember, your references save you during your tests.
Tom Cesario, Connellsville, Penn.
6. Keep in front of the workload.
If you have discussion questions that are due by midnight on Thursday, don’t wait till 11 p. m. to start. Once you get behind, it’s extremely hard to catch up in this fast-paced environment.
7. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Your classmates are willing to help. Your professor is willing to help. And the online tutors and librarians are willing to help. Use that to your advantage.
8. Be open to new points of view.
Whether those perspectives are from someone younger than you, older than you, or from a different academic major than you, keep an open mind. I’ve been the oldest person in 90 percent of the classes I’ve taken, and have certainly been impressed by some of the fresh views of students younger than me!
9. You’re never too old to learn.
Take the opportunity to get as much out of this experience as you can.
Donna Levine, McDonough, Ga
10. Read the instructor’s weekly post and the syllabus thoroughly before and during the course.
This will ensure you don't miss important details regarding deadlines for assignments or any changes or expectations from the instructor to avoid deductions in grading.
11. Don't hesitate to email your instructor for assistance and don't wait until the last minute.
Every instructor I've contacted during my studies has been eager to help and has provided great feedback.
Jenn Kuettner, Riverview, Fla.
Health Care Management
12. Stay focused.
When I'm studying or attending an online class chat, I turn off the TV so that I can focus on the assignments that are due.
13. Be willing to sacrifice.
I have two children, work full time and go to school full time, so there is little free time. Only if I have completed all of my assignments will I allow myself some down time to watch a favorite show, go on a much needed dinner date with my husband, or have a fun family night. I know the sacrifice I make now will have a huge reward for me in the future.
Linda Gagliardo, Trinity, Fla.
14. Be organized.
Working a full-time job and going to school full-time is demanding. However, by staying organized, I ensure I don’t fall behind on assignments.
15. Communicate with professors.
And do so in a timely fashion.
16. Have a support system.
I cannot express enough the importance of support from someone – any one who is there to remind you that you can do it!
Kristin Kuntz, Flowery Branch, Ga.
Health Care Management
17. Review all the classes you have to take and plan out your degree.
Seeing a roadmap of classes makes getting to the end a lot easier. Don’t wing-it every term selecting classes. You’ll end up trying to take classes that have prerequisites or that aren’t available during the term you want. Ask your advisor to review the classes to make sure you are taking them in a good order and when they are available. Take classes like macro and micro economics and accounting one and two back-to-back. Not only does the textbook stay the same, but the material is similar and it will make it a lot easier to get through.
18. Try to take two classes each term.
My advisor guided me on which classes to take alone, but I was able to shave off two years by doing this. If you get into a term and two is too many, drop one by the end of the first week and it won’t cost you anything.
19. Stick with your program each term.
The number one rule to success in an online degree program is do not get complacent and take off a term – you may never go back. Burnout is bound to occur, but take one, easy, light-workload class and you’ll get through it without quitting.
20. Don’t stress over every assignment.
Sometimes you can’t get everything done on time and that is okay. Just contact the professor and let him or her know you need an extra day or two. I’ve never had a professor say no, but don’t take advantage, and make sure you actually complete the assignment.
21. Get the easy stuff out of the way early.
Discussion posts can be tedious, but they are quick assignments and easy grades. Take advantage of completing the easier assignments. They may make the difference in your final grade.
22. Produce quality work.
Most professors are accommodating as long as they can recognize that you make an effort in their class. If you submit poor quality work, or don’t do it on time, don’t expect any favors. They don’t want to lend a helping hand to students who don’t care about the work they do.
Aaron Bowling, Harrisdale, Australia
23. Save work so you don’t have to start from scratch with each assignment.
Save templates with proper formatting and sources so you don’t have to start over fresh with each assignment. It will save you time and help you ensure your formatting is correct.
24. Always turn your assignments in on time.
Do not let yourself fall behind or you will be overwhelmed with work.
Ursula Hart, Virginia Beach, Va.
25. Reach out to instructors and other students.
Use the instructor! Avail yourself of Chat Live, find a study buddy in class you can call in between sessions, if need be. When in doubt, ask, ask, ask, as there are no dumb questions.
26. Don’t procrastinate.
Do all assignments listed and manage your time wisely. This is vital, especially if you are like me and you are a mom who is running her own business.
Susan Morris, Ocala, Fla.
27. Attitude is everything.
The PRICE of success in my college experience requires that I am always: Persistent, Responsible, Inquisitive, Consistent and Effective. I keep my vision in front of me with an attitude of gratitude, excellence and enthusiasm until I reach my goal – with God’s grace and faithfulness strengthening me through the journey.
What tips do you have for success in an online degree program?
Image credit: Syda Productions on Shutterstock.com
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